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New Mythological Figures in Spanish Cinema

New Mythological Figures in Spanish Cinema: Dissident Bodies under Franco

Pietsie Feenstra
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  • Book Info
    New Mythological Figures in Spanish Cinema
    Book Description:

    In the 1970s, especially after Franco's death in 1975, Spanish cinema was bursting at the seams. Numerous film directors broke free from the ancient taboos which had reigned under the dictatorship. They introduced characters who, through their bodies, transgress the traditional borders of social, cultural and sexual identities. Post- Franco cinema exhibits women, homosexuals, transsexuals, and delinquents in new and challenging ways. Under Franco rule, all of these dissident bodies were 'lost'. Here, they reflect new mythological figures, inhabiting an idealised body form (a prototypical body). These new images transform the stereotyped bodies as they question ancient archetypal values. Spanish cinema offers a dazzling performance transforming previous dissident bodies into the new protagonists of its national cinema. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1403-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 17-24)

    Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema introduced new images of human bodies that have profoundly influenced the history of film. Male bodies modified by silicone, walking in a feminine manner and transforming themselves into perfect androgynes. Monstrous mothers dominating the screen (in High Heels/Tacones lejanos or e.g. All About My Mother/Todo sobre mi madre), transgressing the borders of social, sexual and cultural identity. The images of these absurd, ambiguous human bodies burst through taboos and demolished traditional identities by creating new, original characters. Indeed, they illustrate the profound changes in Spanish cinema after 1975. In Almodóvar’s films, this provocative director rarely reacted to...

  2. 1. From prohibition to clear exhibition: how to read into these film-images?
    (pp. 25-64)

    In this chapter, we will analyse two films from the 1950s to illustrate the impact of censorship on forbidden topics. It is not intended to provide a complete overview of Francoist cinema or of the political situation. Rather, we wish to illustrate some Francoist myths related to this totalitarian impact by manipulating history. Barthes’ approach to myths is particularly rich for illustrating the so-called “naturalisation of history” in cinema under dictatorship, which contrasts completely with the concept of history in post-1975 national cinema.

    The political situation in the 1930s was determined by the 1936 electoral victory of the Republication, followed...

  3. 2. The liberation of women
    (pp. 65-128)

    Over a span of twenty years, the cinematographic imaginary of Spanish film underwent a perceptible and interesting change. The examination of certain myths, particularly those pertaining to work and sexuality, provide an acute perspective of this modification. Focusing on work and sexuality will allow us to study the transformation of the imaginary as well as the evolution of the legal and social background of that time. The films Flunking Out (Asignatura pendiente), Carmen and High Heels (Tacones lejanos), provide both excellent and original images, illustrating changes in the representation of women in the pre and post-Franco era.

    Several traditional representations...

  4. 3. The homosexual body on stage
    (pp. 129-198)

    During Francoism homosexuality was forbidden. This state-enforced ban on same-sex relationships is at the basis of a number of myths about homosexuality. To be sure, when a subject is morally and legally banned, such as is typically the case for drugs or prostitution, the interdiction itself can stimulate the creation of a completely imaginary world on the subject. When homosexuality becomes clearly visible in post-Franco cinema, the taboos generated during the time of its proscription are brought to light. The feeling of social rejection is directly illustrated. The protagonist feels guilty or is doing everything to become guilty, as in...

  5. 4. The delinquent’s body out of focus
    (pp. 199-272)

    This chapter addresses another form of marginality by analysing real or imagined delinquency. Representing “evil” is not new, but its form and presentation were updated after 1975. Post-1975 images of delinquency refer to youngsters, drug addicts, gypsies and terrorists; these types of characters are brought into play by Spanish film directors, among others, with films such as Hurry, Hurry (Deprisa, deprisa), El Lute, Tomorrow I’ll be free (El Lute mañana seré libre), and Running Out of Time (Días contados). All four figures are emblematic of problems that are very recognisable in Spanish society. The first group – young drug users –...

  6. Conclusion
    (pp. 273-282)

    Novel representations of the body inform post-1975 Spanish film; after Franco, new images of the body began to reflect equally new thought-images, thereby revealing innovative choreographies of thought. While Pedro Almodóvar remains the most famous film director of the period, putting bodies that were dissident under Francoism at the centre of his cinema, he was nevertheless preceded and accompanied by other influential directors who also focused on taboos. Eloy de la Iglesia, Vicente Aranda, José Luis Garci, Imanol Uribe and Carlos Saura contributed to refreshing Spanish film by dealing directly with forbidden topics. Indeed, several foundational films exemplify this trend,...