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Spanish Screen Fiction

Spanish Screen Fiction: Between Cinema and Television

Volume: 3
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Spanish Screen Fiction
    Book Description:

    This pioneering book is the first to argue that cinema and television in Spain only make sense when considered together as twin vehicles for screen fiction. The Spanish audiovisual sector is now one of the most successful in the world, with feature films achieving wider distribution in foreign markets than nations with better known cinematic traditions and newly innovative TV formats, already dominant at home, now widely exported. Beyond the industrial context, which has seen close convergence of the two media, this book also examines the textual evidence for crossover between cinema and television at the level of narrative and form. The book, which is of interest to both Hispanic and media studies, gives new readings of some well-known texts and discovers new or forgotten ones. For example it compares Almodóvar’s classic feature Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’) with his production company El Deseo’s first venture into TV production, the 2006 series also known as Mujeres (‘Women’). It also reclaims the lost history of female flat share comedy on Spanish TV from the 1960s to the present day. It examines a wide range of prize winning workplace drama on TV, from police shows, to hospital and legal series. Amenábar’s Mar adentro (‘The Sea Inside’) an Oscar-winning film on the theme of euthanasia, is contrasted with its antecedent, an episode of national network Tele5’s top-rated drama Periodistas. The book also traces the attempt to establish a Latin American genre, the telenovela, in the very different context of Spanish scheduling. Finally it proposes two new terms: ‘Auteur TV’ charts the careers of creators who have established distinctive profiles in television over decades; ‘sitcom cinema’ charts, conversely, the incursion of television aesthetics and economics into the film comedies that have proved amongst the most popular features at the Spanish box office in the last decade.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-573-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Between Cinema and Television
    (pp. 11-16)

    On 28 October 2007El País’s Sunday supplement carried a lengthy fashion spread showcased on its cover under the title ‘Gran estreno’ (Cueto). The ‘grand premiere’ thus announced was somewhat ironic. Although the 25 actors in the lavish shoot are parodying a Hollywood film melodrama of the 1950s, complete with homburgs and Chevrolets, they have been chosen because they are the local stars of what the accompanying feature calls the ‘Golden Age’ of series television. In its self-conscious and frivolous way, the spread thus points to the newly elevated status of Spanish television, even in relation to classic cinema, and...

  6. CHAPTER ONE City Girls I: Almodóvar’s Women on Film and Television
    (pp. 17-37)

    Picture this: the main character is a middle-aged, working-class housewife in one of the grittier outlying areas of Madrid. She struggles to cope with the problems of her family: her teenage daughter has personal problems, while her eccentric mother is in another realm altogether. In the absence of support from a husband, she can rely only on the female solidarity of family and friends to pull through.

    The plot is, of course, familiar. Almodóvar’s sixteenth feature film,Volver, was released in Spain on 17 March 2006 and starred Penélope Cruz as the desperate housewife Raimunda and Carmen Maura as the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO City Girls II: Television’s Urban Women, Pre- and Post-Almodóvar
    (pp. 38-64)

    Four young women stride down a city street. Shoulder by shoulder and engaged in lively conversation, they gesture, palms outstretched, and catch each other’s eyes. Three, their hair permed into place, wear fitted skirts, just skimming the knee, and modish heels. Two carry large handbags, plain and patterned, in their right hands. One, the most modern of all, sports short, tousled hair, a mannish coat and cravat, skinny cigarette pants and casual flats. Behind them we glimpse a contemporary urban building: anonymous walls, perhaps of concrete, and a glassy entrance, banded by vertical metal rails. The wide pavement beneath their...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Crime Scenes: Police Drama on Television
    (pp. 65-84)

    There seems little doubt that crime fiction is one of the most important genres on television, serving both to work through vital social issues, such as gender and ethnicity, and to raise troubling questions about the relation between the television medium and everyday life. Articles in the British trade press have discussed how thePolice Reviewcan offer an ‘insider view’ of crime programming (Mason); how police and CCTV footage is facilitated (or prohibited) to broadcasters (Holmwood); and how a former detective chief inspector has worked as a consultant for TV crime drama (Marlow). The BBC was forced to defend...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Dramatic Professions: Workplace Fiction on Television
    (pp. 85-104)

    It is no accident that workplace drama remains a staple on television in many countries. Social issues such as health and the law are increasingly intertwined with the television medium. The trade press has chronicled persistent crises and controversies in these fields. Recently in Britain there was a bitter debate over the protection of children, with one side arguing that ‘kids TV should come with a health warning’, producing as it does physical and psychological ill-effects through violent content, effects on the brain, and influence on diet and obesity (Lyford). Facing the prohibition of advertising for (ill-defined) ‘junk food’, the...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Two Suicides and a Funeral: The Euthanasia Debate on Film and Television
    (pp. 105-121)

    In an unpublished lecture given in Cambridge in 2005, Vicente Benet charted the professionalization of the Spanish cultural industry over the previous decade. Long dependent on direct subsidy from the state, the audiovisual sector was consolidated in the 1990s by private conglomerates, which understood leisure and entertainment as a single unit and integrated television, cinema, and new media. Exemplary here is Prisa, the holding company that embraced newspaperEl País, radio chain SER, and TV pay channel Canal +. Prisa’s vertical integration extended into the three sectors of the film business through its producer Sogecine, distributor Sogepaq (allied with Warner),...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Transnational Telenovela: From Mexico to Madrid, via Barcelona
    (pp. 122-144)

    For any viewer or critic of Spanish-language television, telenovela is inescapable, yet indefinable. Industrial and academic studies both chart the complex career of a genre that changes in time, space and form as the decades roll on, as it is exported around the world from its home base in Latin America, and as it splits into multiple sub-genres. As early as 1998 at the first ‘summit’ of Latin American telenovela producers, Caracas’sEncuadrereported on the ‘controversy’ between the ‘romantic’ original version [rosa] and the ‘realistic’ break [ruptura] with the original model (Kaiser).

    By 2002 a special report in Spain’s...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Auteur TV: Case Studies in Creativity
    (pp. 145-174)

    The debate around the auteur has been surprisingly durable in film studies. The editors of a recent anthology of new articles in the field (Gerstner and Staiger) argue that the 2000s have seen a ‘resurgence in the analysis of authorship’, which they attribute to three motives: the fact that it serves as an ‘enabling tool’ of study; the awareness that (even for Barthes) authors were not truly dead; and the use of authorship, however compromised by humanism and capitalism, as a ‘function for social action’ (1). Moreover, introductory volumes for film students in the US and UK continue to cover...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Sitcom Cinema: Case Studies in Convergence
    (pp. 175-194)

    Predictions of the death of situation comedy have proved premature. Indeed, the trade press has reconfirmed the vitality of that undervalued television genre, stressing innovations in technology, audience and format. ThusBroadcastreported that the BBC was said to be commissioning a comedy tailored to a range of multimedia platforms (White) and claimed that social networking websites such as MySpace offered newly exposed comedy talent a route to the broadcast sector (Keighron). Meanwhile, the BBC had identified four categories of comedy audience: traditionalists, new mainstream, jokers, and progressives or early adaptors (Anonymous). WhileEmmymade much of the transnational adaptation...

  14. Index
    (pp. 195-200)