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Daniel Calparsoro

Daniel Calparsoro

Ann Davies
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Daniel Calparsoro
    Book Description:

    Daniel Calparsoro, a director who has provided a crucial contribution to the contemporary scene in Spanish and Basque cinema, has provoked strong reactions from the critics. Reductively dismissed as a purveyor of crude violence by those critics lamenting a 'lost golden age' of Spanish filmmaking, Calparsoro’s films reveal in fact a more complex interaction with trends and traditions in both Spanish and Hollywood cinema. This book is the first full-length study of the director’s work, from his early social realist films set in the Basque Country to his later forays into the genres of the war and horror film. It offers an in-depth film-by-film analysis, while simultaneously exploring the function of the director in the contemporary Spanish context, the tension between directors and critics, and the question of national cinema in an area – the Basque Country – of heightened national and regional sensitivities.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-286-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Part I The context

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-34)

      The purpose of this study is essentially twofold, although one element will appear more immediate than the other. It is in the first place to consider the work of a contemporary Spanish film director, Daniel Calparsoro, and to do so arguably in auteurist terms. The reasons for doing so are theorised more explicitly below, although anyone picking up this book might assume the approach to be already implied by taking a single director as a focus of study. That this study does not take auteurism for granted is suggested by the second element of its overall purpose, to relate the...

    • 2 Najwa Nimri: the interaction of director and star
      (pp. 35-56)

      One central reason why the original conceptualisation of the auteur has been challenged and reformulated is the fact that the director, however distinctive his or her individual cinematic vision, rarely if ever works alone. Critics and scholars increasingly recognise the contribution of others involved in the filmmaking process: actors, camera operators, costume designers, musicians and so on. This chapter starts from that very premise: that Calparsoro has not made his six films unaided, that others participated in his work and have collaborated to a greater or lesser extent. Calparsoro has drawn on the abilities of others in making his films:...

  6. Part II The films

    • 3 Salto al vacío: opening up the void
      (pp. 59-81)

      Of all the films in Calparsoro’s oeuvre, none has had more impact or been more discussed than his first feature-length filmSalto al vacío. It has received the most academic attention hitherto, including a role as case study in two of the most significant monographs of contemporary Spanish (Ballesteros, 2001) and Basque (Rodríguez, 2002a) cinema. Its blunt and visceral style also served to gain critical attention from the industry and the press at a time when Spanish cinema was coming into full ferment: according to Justin Crumbaugh it received great acclaim from directors such as Steven Spielberg at its premier...

    • 4 Pasajes: pathways through nowhere
      (pp. 82-99)

      For his second film,Pasajes, Calparsoro immersed himself a little more within the Spanish film industry by drawing on the support of one of the most noted production companies of the contemporary Spanish scene, the El Deseo company formed by Pedro Almodóvar, who had been enthusiastic aboutSalto(Crumbaugh, 2001: 40), and his brother Agustín, and he also drew on the experience of established actress Charo López. This time Calparsoro had access to better resources than before, despite the struggle with funding – for example, a fight instructor, and the music of Alberto Iglesias, who started a regular collaboration with Almodóvar...

    • 5 A ciegas: the blind side of Basque terrorism
      (pp. 100-117)

      A ciegas, the last of the Basque trilogy, again foregrounds a female protagonist against the backdrop of a violent Basque reality with the story of an ETA terrorist who rebels against ETA and flees with her son from the armed struggle. Like its predecessors, the film gained a showing at a film festival, as a contender for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Carlos Roldán Larreta (1999: 360) describes the film’s presence in the festival as an important triumph for the director; although it got a cool reception there, Roldán Larreta nonetheless felt that the film demonstrated Calparsoro’s...

    • 6 Asfalto: violence à trois
      (pp. 118-137)

      Just as Marrubi abandoned the armed struggle for Basque nationalism inA ciegas, so Calparsoro himself left behind a decaying Basque landscape for new settings: central Madrid inAsfaltoand its suburbs inAusentes, and the countryside of Kosovo forGuerreros. For his next two films he also diluted the emphasis on a central female protagonist in preference to a more ensemble cast (though the emphasis on the female protagonist would return with Julia inAusentes). Nonetheless the change in approach withAsfalto, the film immediately following the Basque trilogy, did not mean the rejection of all the elements that...

    • 7 Guerreros: Spanish alienation in a foreign landscape
      (pp. 138-159)

      Calparsoro’s next film,Guerreros, makes a more overt move towards genre films more typical of Hollywood than European fare, the war film having been dominated by Hollywood.Guerrerostells us of a troop of Spanish soldiers acting as a peacekeeping force in Kosovo, who undertake a mission to repair an electricity generator in the exclusion zone. A confrontation with rebel forces embroils the young soldiers directly in the war, and for the rest of the film they simply try to survive in hostile territory. Calparsoro has not, however, left behind some of his earlier themes and styles: the sense of...

    • 8 Ausentes: shining a light on horror
      (pp. 160-178)

      ForAusentes, his most recent film to date, Calparsoro turned from the war film to another genre, horror. In interviews at the time of the film’s release he confirmed that he wants to try out different genres: ‘Desde “Asfalto” siempre intento tocar varios géneros, no centrarme en una línea para ver si soy capaz de manejarme’ (I have wanted to try out different genres ever sinceAsfalto, rather than concentrate on one form, to see if I can handle it; ‘Daniel Calparsoro: “Ya se me han pasado las ansias de ser protagonista”’, 2005). This is in keeping with his belief...

    • 9 Conclusion
      (pp. 179-186)

      In my introduction to this study of Calparsoro, I proposed a twofold purpose in carrying out the study. In the first place, I intended a detailed close analysis of the director’s six feature films. The ensuing chapters should have served to open up Calparsoro’s work to further study and debate: the discussion therein is not exhaustive but functions to posit the films as a coherent corpus. Secondly, I hoped to place this corpus in its wider context, examining it not as a hermetically sealed unit but a porous one within which negotiation and confrontation with the surrounding industry can be...

  7. Filmography and synopses
    (pp. 187-191)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 192-197)
  9. Index
    (pp. 198-200)