Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition

Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition

Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition

Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition

Synopsis

The liveliness and importance of Spanish cinema is increasingly being recognised outside Spain, in film festivals, television exposure, and courses in Institutions of Higher Education. To a large extent this is 'auteur' or art-movie cinema. Spanish Cinema concentrates upon that tradition, focusing upon the key films in a period stretching from 1952 to the present day. The term 'auteur' has lately fallen into disrepute. The idea - most actively promoted by Cahiers du Cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s - that the director is to a film what an author is to a poem, play or novel, has been subjected to much criticism since structuralist and post-structuralist attacks on the author. But even in pre-'death of the author' days film raised its own specific problems about authorship. Nevertheless, since the initial excitement of French critical theory's provocative assault on conventional notions of authorship, and taking into account specific problems related to the collaborative nature of film-making, attempts have recently been made to reclaim some of the ground lost by the author in these critical and theoretical battles. This volume offers lively readings of films by key directors working to a large extent in the art-movie/'auteurist' field, and aims to strike a balance between representative films, directors and periods. Each chapter concentrates on a single film, discussing it in accessible critical language that takes account both of the distinctiveness of film as an art form and of the material and socio-historical contexts in which each film was made.

Excerpt

Even though the term 'auteur' is problematic, largely because it somewhat neglects the protean and varied origins of cinematographic images, it nevertheless adequately suits the purpose of Peter Evans and his contributors, whose aim is to articulate a truth about Spanish cinema: namely, that its success both qualitatively and quantitatively stems from the efforts of those film-makers who placed above all else the desire to produce a work of art expressing a personal vision.

Spanish cinema, among the oldest in Europe, a cinema that never lost its momentum—even during the Civil War feature films continued to be made—and which even from its beginnings reached reasonably high levels of production, only claimed the attention of international critics about twenty or so years ago, after the death of Franco. Arguably, even today it is still a cinema that, despite a few outstanding films by directors such as Saura, Almodóvar, Bigas Luna, de la Iglesia, or Amenábar, remains unknown to mass audiences; despite, too, the growing, often admiring attention of historians and scholars in universities and centres of audiovisual and cultural studies throughout the world.

Such names, along with others less familiar abroad, but equally important to our industry, can be considered to be auteurs, in the sense that French critics, led by Bazin and his influential Cahiers du cinéma, gave to the term. Our film industry parallels a situation common to all those seemingly exotic, but geographically neighbouring, national industries. Those too are known only through a few directors—their auteurs—and sometimes not even then, as world attention is attracted by just a few remarkable or fortunate films.

But there are two essential differences. The first, already . . .

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