FORTHCOMING IN SPAIN IS (STILL) DIFFERENT, eds. Jaume Martí Olivella and Eugenia
Afinoguenova, U of Minnesota P:
Toppling the Xenolith: The Reconquest of Spain from the Uncanny Other in Iberian Film since
World War Two
Patricia Hart, Purdue University
1. The Others
Ser ibero, ser ibero
es una cosa muy seria,
soy altivo y soy severo
porque he nacido en Iberia.
Y al que diga lo contrario
Y al que ofenda a mi terruño
Lo atravieso atrabilario
Con esta daga que empuño
Fray Apócrifo de la Cruz1
Long before Ruy Díaz de Vivar drove the Moors from Valencia and returned her fragrant
orange groves to an ungrateful Alfonso VI—and long before anyone could suspect that in 1983
Angelino Fons would cast lion-tamer Ángel Cristo as the title character in his 1983 comedy, El Cid
Cabreador—Iberian popular culture was often obsessed with monarchic, dictatorial, or hegemonic
views of what is “us” and what is “other,” and with good reason! That catch-all category, iberos, was
loosely used to name all of those prehistoric people living on the Peninsula before they had been
invaded by just about every enterprising group armed with swords or something to sell. Celts,
Phoenicians, Carthaginians on pachyderms, Greeks, Romans, suevos, alanos Vandals, Visigoths,
Moors… no wonder the xenos was traditionally a cause for concern! The blunt, politically- and
financially-expedient, medieval interest in the so-called “purity” of blood” and antiquity of Christian
conversion served to consolidate power, property, and social stratification.
Better known as Moncho Alpuente.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—2
It is essential to keep this in mind as we talk about tourism on film, as for milenia, the idea
of travel for pleasure was something reserved for a very tiny elite (and their servants). Ordinary
Spaniards a hundred years ago may have moved the cows to the summer pasture, or participated in
the trashumancia or spent a summer Sunday afternoon near El Jarama or seen the world while on
military service, but they did not usually have the luxury of traveling just to relax and look. In most
of human history, the chance to experience new cuisine and learn languages came at the cost of
invasion, imperialism, and perhaps slavery as well. The modern invention of middle-class tourism has
been built, like Cholula in Mexico, on top of deeper structures of expectations regarding the
confrontation between Self and Other. For example, Americans contemporaries of Edith Wharton
and Henry James went abroad to gain a veneer of sophistication, a collection of affectations, some
home decoration and couture tips, and bragging rights. They supposed they would incorporate what
was superior about the European Other, and become a superior Self, a sort of über-American.
Pilgrims journey to Mecca, Lourdes, or Jim Morrison's grave in Paris because it gives their
returning pilgrim Self a spiritual edge over Others in their own group. Ultimately, travel of any kind
for humans contains thousands of chances to compare and contrast onesself to others, to judge
Self superior to others (as an imperial Roman or a neo-colonial sex tourist to Thailand might) or to
try to adapt or assimilate (as exiles, refugees, slaves, or young students on their jounior year
abroad may opt or have to do). I use the word "tourist" in the broadest possible sense in this study
because doing so yields rich and surprising insight into Spanish film.
2. Santiago Matamoros Slept Here—Maybe
“¡Santiago y cierra España!” Spanish battle cry
Spain’s patron saint, Santiago (James the Elder), one of the original twelve apostles, may
have been an early tourist himself and must certainly be considered the unofficial patron saint of
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—3
Spanish Dark Ages tourism, as well as official patron of pilgrims. Christ may have stopped at Éboli2,
but according to Iberian legend, James made it all the way to Galicia. The Bible says in Acts that
Santiago was beheaded by Herod Agrippa around 44 AD, but late folklore avers that the saint’s
followers sent his remains to Iria Flavia (modern-day Padrón) in an unmanned stone boat. There
they slept undisturned until the Ninth Century, when miraculous lights revealed their presence.
Santiago’s role in Spanish foundational fiction does not end there. In the battle of Clavijo
in 834 in which victorious Ramiro I defeated Abderramán II, the king reported that the victory
was due to an apparition of the apostle himself, riding a white charger into battle against the
The miracles attributed to “Santiago Matamoros” quickly converted Santiago de Compostela
, home of his bones, into an extremely popular goal for pilgrims. These pious travelers definitely
did sleep along the famous route of Santiago throughout the Middle Ages and to a lesser extent, up
to our day, bringing money, language, customs, and ideas along with them. The saint who inspired the
war cry “¡Santiago y cierra España!” was, paradoxically, one of the strongest influences in opening
the newly-imagined proto-nation to outsiders. But Santiago’s transition from preacher of the
gospel of love into crusader against Islam—lavishly illustrated over the centuries in sculpture,
painting, and stained glass in which the saint is often simultaneously chopping an arm or head off
one infidel while his charger crushes the skull of another—clearly sends a message that is, to say
the least, mixed. Juan Goytisolo put it bluntly. “La transmutación pasmosa del pacífico pescador
del lago Tiberíades en un jinete experto y aguerrido, cortacabezas insigne, respondía como es obvio,
a la necesidad de las Iglesias” (11).
According to Italian folksayings, novelist Carlo Levi, and director Francesco Rosi.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—4
Added to this in the Spanish popular imaginary are numerous other literary versions of anti-
islamism, like Cervantes’ bitter five year experience as a POW of the Turks in North Africa,
recounted in Los baños de Argel.3 Great men had spoken out on the moro, and tolerance was rarely
part of the discussion before such careful modern scholars as Julio Caro Baroja and Américo
Castro. Later novelists Gil Albert and Juan Goytisolo reconfigured the Caliphate of Córdoba as a
golden age of tolerance in Spain’s past.4 They concur that this reality had been erased by the
crude racism of the Reconquest and then whitewashed by forty years of Francoist historical
revisionism. Even as unlikely a source as Claudio Sánchez Albornoz, last president of the Republic in
exile, as late as 1975, continued to support a thesis manipulated by fascist Spain and the most
reactionary sector of the church:
Temo que otra gran tronada histórica pueda mañana poner en peligro la civilización
occidental, como lo estuvo por obra del Islam en los siglos VII y VIII...La cultura europea
fue salvada por Don Pelayo en Covadonga...¿Dónde se iniciará la nueva reconquista que salve
al cabo las esencias de la civilización nieta de aquella por la que, con el nombre de Dios en los
labios, peleó el vencedor del Islam en Europa? (11)
When the senseless murder of Encarnación López by a mentally ill North African man
touched off an explosion of racist violence in El Ejido in early February of 2000, Antonio Burgos
said on Onda Cero Radio:
Also El trato de Argel, and “el cautivo” intercalated in the Quijote. La gran sultana and El amante liberal have usually been
considered apart from the more “realistic” North African work, although recent critics like Ottmar Hegyi argue in favor of
looking at all the Islamic-themed works together, and not assuming that the latter are simple fantasies. Francisco Nieva’s
adaptation of Baños in the Teatro María Guerrero in 1979 put the play into post-Franco prominence. This, in addition to his
anti-semitism, makes some consider him xenophobic, but I think such a view is both anachronistc, and also ignores the fact
that Cervantes was also pretty pittiless in his depiction of Spaniards of all varieties and professions, urban and rural.
Juan Goytisolo, who made his home mainly in Marrakesh, Morocco since the 60s, wrote his best-known reinterpretation of
history in La reivindicación del conde don Julián, 1970, But many other books of his touched his interest in islamic themes
and history, including Crónicas sarracinas, Makbara, En los reinos de taifas, Las virtudes del pájaro solitario, La cuarentena,
Estambul otomano, Argelia en el vendaval, El bosque de las letras, El sitio de los sitios, and De la Ceca a la Meca.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—5
Arde Almería . . . [y] los plásticos de los invernaderos… [y] las chabolas de los marroquíes en
El Ejido. Como si Santiago Matamoros se hubiera vuelto a montar en su caballo blanco en una
nueva batalla de Clavijo retransmitida en directo por los telediarios.
Spanish popular film was slow to recognize the racist content of their myth of nationhood,
possibly because the Reconquest was so successful at expelling or extinguishing the Other. One
early silent film, El negro que tenía el alma blanca, directed by Benito Perojo in 1926, starred
Concha Piquer as Emma, a star who torments her black dance partner Pedro, knowing he was in love
with her. The movie was remade twice more with the same title, in 1934 by Perojo himself, and in
1951 by Hugo del Carril, who also starred, now with the anglicized name “Peter.” But these three
films are anomalous. Immigration and racism are topics that began to be explored in Spanish film
more as the post-Franco Spain became more diverse, and following a somewhat predictable
trajectory. When North and Sub-Saharan African immigrants to Spain became common, they began
to appear in films. Early treatement of the theme tended toward melodrama, as in Imanol Uribe’s
1996 film Bwana, adapted from Ignacio del Moral’s play, La mirada del hombre oscuro. The center
of the film is clearly the Spanish taxi driver Antonio and his wife (played by Andrés Pajares and
María Barranco), while Ombasi, the immigrant, is a childlike Other who provokes their compassion
and needs protection as surely as their two children do. Ángel Camiña opines, “ . . .Uribe apuesta
sobre seguro, y sin dudar de sus inquietudes sociales . . . prepara . . . un caramelo fílmico . . . y
situaciones cargadas de ‘mensajes’ ” (188). Carlos Saura’s Taxi (1996) is similarly simplistic, and
audiences have no trouble knowing that they are supposed to identify with the good and sensitive
Dani (Ingrid Rubio), and despise her neo-Nazi taxi-driving father and boyfriend. Says Eduardo T.
Gil de Muro:
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—6
[Taxi] sobre un extraño guión de Santiago Tabernero . . . divide campos sin suficientes
razones . . . los buenos son los buenos y los malos son los malos. Cualquier poibilidad de
discernimiento se nos evapora . . . y acabamos por no creernos casi nada de lo que se nos
Both directors make clear that racism is bad; what a relief! What is not clear is whether there was
an anti-defamation league of Madrid taxi drivers, and whether they spoke out!
Montxo Armendáriz’s Cartas de Alou (1990) gave center and voice to the Senegalese
protagonist, but its emotional appeal is facile. En la puta calle, directed by Enrique Gabriel in 1996,
rises above its somewhat predictable material thanks to the fine acting of protagonists, Juan
(Ramón Barea) and Andy (Luis Alberto García). Juan is an out of work electrician in a yuppified
Madrid, and Andy is doubly marginalized by his race and illegal status. Luis Alberto García graces
two other Spanish films in the nineties that give a human face to immigration and the racial
hierarchies in colonization (Mambí, 1998, directed by Santiago and Teodoro Ríos; and Manuel
Gutiérrez Aragón’s Cosas que dejé en la Habana, 1997).
Icíar Bollaín’s 1999 film Flores de otro mundo looks lovingly at the other-world “flowers”
who journey to “Santa Eulalia”5 in search of husbands and security, and Helena Taberna’s
Extranjeras (2003) documents with sensitivity the wide variety of foreign women who are changing
the face of Spain. But it is really only quite recently that the immigrant woman is granted
personhood on film, and it is still a hit or miss proposition.
In Miguel Santesmases 1999 Fuente Amarilla, Silvia Abascal plays the daughter of a Chinese
mother and Spanish father killed by the Chinese mafia in Madrid. The fact that Abascal is not
Chinese in any way, and that the Chinese are protrayed as bloodthirsty demons caused an uproar in
Loosely based on the famous “Plan de Plans”
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—7
the Madrid Chinese community, and the Chinese embassy even tried to stop filming through an
injunction based upon the film’s supposedly racist content. Almost the best you can say about the
treatment of xenos in the film is that the Asians fare better here than in Santiago Segura’s 1998
Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley. However, I love you, baby (Albacete and Menkes, 2001), treats
the relationship between Marcos (Jorge Sanz) and his Dominican girlfriend, Marisol (Tiaré Scanda)
more sensitively. We would hardly expect less of a film co-written by Lucía Etxebarría, and with a
cameo from Boy George.
Daniela Fejerman e Inés París’s 2002 A mi madre le gustan las mujeres Rosa María Sardá’s
second act in life includes a lesbian lover who is young Czech immigrant. The Czech woman has
personhood, but not protagonism, and what is front and center in the film is the reaction of the
daughters to their mother’s news. Meanwhile, in Cosas que dejé en la Habana (1997, Manuel
Gutiérrez Aragón) the real-life problems of Cuban immigrants to Spain takes center stage.
Specifically, the opportunistic relationship that Jorge Perrugoría’s Igor develops with older
Azucena (Kiti Manver), while falling in love with the much younger Nena (Violeta Rodríguez), knocks
cockeyed the absurd notion found in the popular Spanish press at that time; namely that one could
somehow import a solution to being a single, middle-aged woman in Spain.
Miguel Albaladejo is similarly unsympathetic to Spanish women who want to take their turn
at sexual tourism. One of the seven vignettes in Ataque verbal (1999) involves a Spanish woman who
had a memorable fling in Cuba several years earlier with a nubile Afrocuban, and then returns with
the romanticized idea of bringing her lover back to Spain. Things seem to be going according to
plan until the lover reveals that she is actually the younger sister of the former fling. The Spanish
woman has not been able to tell the difference—blinded, the film suggests, by self-interest and the
exotic titillation of the much younger Cuban woman’s black skin. The stereotypical turipepe, off to
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—8
Cuba on a charter flight in search of exotic sex partners is still visible in Spanish film from Sabor
latino (Pedro Carvajal, 1996) to Pata negra (Luis Oliveros, 2001) to Cuarteto de la Habana
(Fernando Colomo, 1999), but at least now some of the shoppers who consider “abroad” to be a
sexual supermarket are women. It is perhaps in this category that we can include Vicente Aranda’s
strange adaptation of Antonio Gala’s “sexperpento,” La pasión turca. Timid casting has French-
Algerian actor, Georges Corraface play Yaman, and poor Ana Belén’s thankless role as Desideria
makes us long for her role in La corte del Faraón. Less emetic is Paco Betriu’s El Paraíso ya no es lo
que era (2001), but it still revolves around the Magreb (Tunisia this time) as site for exotic sexual
3. Viajas más que los baúles de la Piquer”: How Spaniards have seen themselves as world
EN TIERRA EXTRAÑA
Fue en Nueva York Yo pagué a peso de oro una Por ella brindamos todos
una nochebuena . . . receta y fue noche de emoción.
Como allí está prohibido por Y compré en la farmacia La nochebuena más buena
la ley seca. vino español . . . que soñar pudo un español. .
sólo al que está enfermo Que bien que sabe ese vino .
despachan vino cuando se bebe lejos de
What better example of successful world travel with provincial beginnings could there have
been than a little girl from Valencia with a big voice who conquered New York before she turned 15,
and learned to speak English practically before Castilian? Cupletista, doña Concha Piquer’s first trip
across the ocean at the start of the roaring twenties brought her an apotheosis on Broadway. We
can only imagine the spectacle of doña Concha waiting on the docks for one of her tours of North
and South America that went on for up to five years at a time. There too would have been the
seventy members of her company, her husband, her daughter Concha Márquez Piquer, the dog, the
canary, spotlights, scenery, costumes, bedding, and an emergency stock of hard-to-find necessities
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—9
as Spanish wines and olive oil, all packed into some one hundred and seventy steamer trunks!6 It is
precisely the atypicality of her case that makes it unforgettable. Remarkably, Doña Concha
survived the roaring twenties and the depression with family, honor, and bank accounts largely
The song most closely associated with her debut is a biographical one written by Penella in
her honor, telling of her first New Year’s Eve in New York, where prohibition required her to get a
doctor’s prescription in order to offer her guests a toast. La nochebuena más buena can only be
toasted in with Spanish wine, and this revelation of how far short New York falls is immensely
reassuring to those Iberians who did not manage to travel quite as much as doña Concha’s trunks.
4. Indianos, conquistadores, y una pica en Flandes: Successful Spanish Tourists Abroad
No os preguntarán por mí, que, español, a toda vena, que, perdiendo ofende a
que en estos tiempos a amé, reñí, di mi sangre, todos,
nadie pensé poco, recé mucho, que, triunfando alcanza a
le da lustre haber nacido jugué bien, perdí bastante, nadie,
segundón de casa grande; y, porque esa empresa loca no quise salir del mundo
pero si pregunta alguno, que nunca debió tentarme, sin poner mi pica en Flandes.
bueno será contestarle
Eduardo Marquina, En Flandes se ha puesto el
As told by Concha Márquez Piquer in «Mi madre me llamaba ‘doña Verdades’» Por Arantza Furundarena. / LA
Most Spaniards in the first seven decades of the twentieth century ventured abroad somewhat less
grandly than Piquer, and this section will examine the progress from the image of self-consciously
insular Spanish innocents abroad that carries over well into the eighties, and even to the present.
The Spanish collective male psyche had permanently lost the self-image of imperial conquistador
with the rout of 1898. The pitiful spectacle of the return of pathetic soldaditos de rayadillo7
greatly dirtied the distant myth of the valiant Cortés burning his ships and conquering a continent
with only a handful of gallant men, or the indiano, who does “las Américas” and returns home
wealthy. Spain’s misadventures in North Africa in the early 20th century added inspiration for
daring soldiers of fortune.
It is even harder to find iconic representations of intrepid female travelers in the Spanish
imaginary. Historically, famous women travelers of Spain really do not bear aping. There was
Queen Juana I (1479-1555), daughter of Fernando and Isabel, and nicknamed La Loca. Most of her
troubles started when she traveled abroad to Flanders to marry a foreigner (Felipe “El Hermoso”).
Legend says she earned the epithet because when her husband was alive, she jealously followed him
around the kingdom up to advanced stages of gestation, going so far as to have her fourth baby in
an outhouse in Ghent from the strain. The royal couple traveled to Spain after Queen Isabel the
First’s death, and this trip brought more bad news, since it gave her husband, now King, the idea to
send her on another unlucky trip. Seems he wanted to run everything by having her put away as
mad, but he died before he could accomplish his goal. She then set off with his corpse for Granada
to bury him, but this trip was ill-fated too, as she was intercepted by the renaissance equivalent of
men in white coats. The last forty-six years of her life were spent in “reclusion.” If this is not a
cautionary tale for Spanish girls with an itch to travel, I do not know what is!
Valle-Inclán’s esperpento, Las galas del difunto, at once drives a stake through the myth of don Juan and that of the
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—11
Tamayo y Baus’s theatrical version of this story, Locura de amor, served as a base on which
at least three films were built, to greater or lesser success. Ricardo Baños made a silent version in
1909, though Juan de Orduña’s 1948 version is surely better known.8 For Orduña, we should speak
of Juana as a woman who loved not wisely, but too well, and who, although benighted, had qualities
that befitted any self-respecting member of the Sección Femenina.9
Vicente Aranda also started from Tamayo’s play for his 2001 film, Juana la Loca, but his
final project is substantially different (unless I have forgotten these sex scenes in the original, or
the stage directions indicating Felipe should be played by a Fabio look-alike). Perhaps Aranda’s title
is ironic; still the name change produces an unfortunate result. It is virtually impossible for Joaquín
Sabina fans of a certain age to ask for a ticket at the box office without hearing a few bars of
“desde que te pintas la boca en vez de don Juan/ te llamamos ‘Juana la Loca.’”10 Aranda’s Juana, in
any case, might be better nicknamed, “Juana the Not All that Bright, but Probably Not Clinically
Insane, Just Really, Really Self-Absorbed In A Society That Only Lets Men Be Narcissists.”
More successful as a traveler, but equally problematic to emulate was Catalina de Erauso,
“La Monja Alférez” (±1585—±1650). The 1944 Mexican film starring María Félix may be most
famous for the doña’s ridiculously unconvincing drag (only the blind and deaf in the audience could
have ever mistaken her for a man). In 1987, Javier Aguirre (the same director who brought us El
insólito embarazo de los Martínez in 1974 (a full 20 years before Arnold Schwarzeneger starred in
Junior); Padre y soltero en la vida; and Una vez al año ser hippy no hace daño, plus a long and equally
invincible Spaniard fighting abroad.
An enterprising reader might choose to verify the enduring impact of Orduña’s film by viewing it and then Montxo
Armendáriz’s 2001 film, Silencio roto, and verifying that Armendáriz has essentially reproduced the lighting from Orduña’s
film—perhaps in deliberate homage to cinematographer José F. Aguayo, a favorite of collaborator of Buñuel’s. Who knows?
The Sección Femenina was the Falangist and later National Movement organization for the education and control of women,
started by Pilar Primo de Rivera, sister of the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera.
Joaquín Sabina. Ruleta rusa, CBS, 1984.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—12
frightening etcétera) made another film with the same title. Although I have not been able to see
it, I must confess that I suspect the worst.
In Spanish film history, if venturing overseas alone seemed only open to those females
cross-dressed and with bound breasts, then domestic travel by unaccompanied women was either a
symptom of or a cause for insanity. When a celluloid Spanish woman left her small town until very
recently, loss of virtue regularly ensued. Think of both the 1937 and the 1957 versions of La hija
de Juan Simón! In the earlier, directed by Sáenz de Heredia, with some help from Luis Buñuel11,
humble gravedigger Juan Simón speaks to a coffin about his daughter, whom he believes to be dead.
“Ya ves, ha sío de tós, y ya no é de naide, ni siquiera su familia.” The film’s strangely ambiguous,
surreal ending— perhaps Buñuel’s contribution—could could be read as her laudanum induced
hallucination before death, or, if the spectator is more forgiving or ingenuous, a genuine happy
There is also a 1957 Gonzalo Delgrás film of the same name, but with a substantially
different plot. This one stars beloved songbird, Antonio Molina, soon to become even more famous
for marrying a gorgeous foreign actress, Lucia Bosè. In this one, when the fallen woman asks
foster brother Juan (Antonio Molina) when he will be able to forgive her for going to the city and
losing her purity he basically answers that he will pardon her when she is dead, which she obediently
soon becomes. Urban environments are clearly bad for girls, particularly for bad girls who have sex
with their small-town boyfriends.
Although Marsha Kinder asserts that Buñuel is the real director, most experts do not agree. The film was the second
production by Filmófono, and playwright and architect Nemesio M. Sobrevila was initially picked to direct, but because he
worked so slowly, he was fired. In the interim between the firing and Sáenz de Heredia's coming on board, scriptwriter
Eduardo Ugarte and Buñuel himself set about rewriting the script and directing a few scenes so that the project would not
get too far behind schedule.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—13
Even worse disaster befalls “Amparito” Rivelles12 as a direct consequence of traveling alone
in a stagecoach in Rafael Gil’s 1944 adaptation of Pedro Antonio de Alarcón’s detective story, El
clavo. Blanca (Rivelles), strikes up a conversation in a diligencia with a handsome stranger, Zarco
(Rafael Durán), not telling him that she is fleeing an unhappy marriage. They have an affair, and
Blanca then goes home and murders her husband by driving a nail into his opportunely lush thatch of
hair. Nineteenth-Century Spanish Crime Scene Investigation being what it is, the death is
considered the result of a stroke. Blanca, though now free, feels too guilty to resume her tryst
with Zarco, and leaves him stranded at the rendezvous spot. No one suspects murder until Zarco—
Judge Zarco, that is!—now brooding and moody over his lost love—sits down in a country churchyard
to converse Hamlet-to-Yorrick style with a conveniently placed skull and notices that it has a nail
through it. Zarco retraces the felonious ferric fastener right back to Blanca, who of course, must
die. For Zarco, the case is a rainmaker that solidifies his judicial reputation and adds a tragically
romantic sheen to his good looks and sexual magnetism. It is clear he may continue to ride a
stagecoach called desire for as long as he is able to climb aboard, but woe unto unhappy women who
travel alone! If only they would just stay home and suffer with Christian resignation! As Alejandro
Casona’s Corregidora says in La molinera de Arcos (based on another Alarcón work, El sombrero de
tres picos) “Una mujer como yo, cuando ha jurado, no necesita ser feliz para estar dónde debe”
In Juan de Orduña’s 1947 film La Lola se va a los puertos (loosely-based on the brothers
Machado’s musical play of the same name), Lola (Juanita Reina) is left with her illusions bloodied,
but her head unbowed after leaving “la isla” and being taken in by a dilettante bullfighter-señorito
This movie was apparently made before the young Rivelles lost her…diminutive!
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—14
who was not the real deal, but just a rich boy slumming. The ending is sad but not tragic, maybe
because, with that extra moral wiggle room accorded entertainers, Lola promises to go on.
During the transition to democracy and the Socialist years, travel evolved on film. The
practice of smuggling hashish from Morocco is depicted in a number of films of the 80s and 90s like
Colegas 13and Bajarse al Moro.14 El pico, tried to give a crude portrait of the reality of harder
drugs; meanwhile use of and traffic in harder drugs appear humorously in films like ¿Qué he hecho
yo para merecer esto? in which prostitute and hopeful emmigrant to Las Vegas, Cristal (Verónica
Forqué) warns teenager Toni not to use heroin, arguing, “si tú no necesitas rebajar,” and Entre
tinieblas in which Marisa Paredes’s Sor Estiércol drops acid and walks on broken glass while Julieta
Serrano’s Abbess shoots heroin in sympathy with her wayward girls, gives it up with relative ease,
and finally uses her sororital image to smuggle drugs into Spain from the Netherlands .
Young people also traveled for schooling and pleasure more during the Transition and early
Democracy, although the initial experiences were mixed, on film at least. In Skyline, for example,
Antonio Resines is defeated by his monolingual provincialism, which causes him to snatch defeat
from the jaws of victory, and return home, tail between legs, on the verge of getting his big break.
Meanwhile on the 80s jukebox, Mecano insisted that for Spanish tourists, “no hay marcha en Nueva
York,” and depicted one as asking directions to the Statue of Liberty “como en Hijos de un dios
menor,” to disastrous results:
…y cuando adopté la posición
de este monumento en cuestión
se pensó que era un terrorista
Eloy de la Iglesia. 1980.
Directed by Fernando Colomo, 1988. Based on the homonymous play by José Luis Alonso de Santos.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—15
buscando follón y lo tuve…15
It is really not until the 90s that a significant number of films depict Spaniards traveling
abroad without panicking or becoming caricatures, and as speaking languages other than Spanish
without breaking a sweat. In his 1995 comedy, El efecto mariposa, Fernando Colomo retires the
Skyline stereotypes, and lets both Coque Malla’s Luis and María Barranco’s Olivia communicate with
ease in English—much better than the Spanish of Englishmen played by James Fleet and Peter
Sullivan! It is only the previous generation—in the person of Rosa María Sardà at her finest—that
gets flustered, and there is every reason to believe that she too will eventually swim, not sink. By
Julio Medem’s Amantes del círculo polar, 1998, Spanish characters Ana and Otto (Najwa Nimri and
Fele Martínez) need not explain how they know English and other tongues.
5. The Allies Stopped at the Pyrennees
During the Spanish Civil War, the foreign Other played a huge role—both real and symbolic.
Luftwaffe bombs on Gernika, Italian troops sent by Mussolini, and Franco’s North African
mercenaries were anathema to Republican Loyalists. On the other side, the Nationalists got great
mileage out of propaganda featuring the specter of soulless Soviet troops poised to sweep in and
destroy religion, god, motherhood and honor. The non-intervention of England and the U.S. further
divided the two Spains, while the individual sacrifices made brigadistas from 53 countries and a
broad political spectrum confounded stereotyping by nation. More than 35,000 foreigners,
thousands of anti-fascist Italians and Austro-Germans, risked their lives to fight fascism over the
course of the war, and at least a third died fighting.
It took a long, long time before any sort of balanced or sophisticated representations of
this foreign presence in a war in which two halves of the same country bitterly fought each other;
Lyrics by José María Cano. The song is on Mecano’s 1988 album, Descanso dominical.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—16
maybe it is still to come. Some might even theorize over a bottle of chianti that Spain suffered for
forty years from Don Camillo envy. Don Camillo was a fictional priest invented by Italian author
Giovanni Guareschi, who, like his character, lived in a small town in Emilia-Romagna called Brescello
in the years following World War II. Don Camillo lives to compete with the communist mayor of
Brescello, Don Peppone. Camillo and Peppone symbolize the culture shock between the "two Italys"
clashing as they strove to build a nation through two very different ways of looking at life. Don
Camillo embodies the traditional Catholic, Christian Democrat Italy. By contrast, Don Peppone, the
communist mayor, fleshes out—literally and figuratively— the revolutionary model. Although the
real-life political conflict between these two Italies was long and bitter, these film characters are
more alike than different., big-hearted and community minded Italian men and who need each other
to exist, despite their frequent disagreements, and who are not above milking cows together and
toasting with buckets of milk, when a strike would have let the bovines starve or their udders
explode. They both love Brescello, are united against external threats, and prefigure the so-called
"compromiso histórico." While hardly subtle or sophisticated, the films allow the rivals to face
each other on the soccer field, not the battle field (although one soon turns into the other after
the mayor bribes the one-eyed referee). Although Spaniards in fact saw these films, the
dialectical reality they alluded to must have seemed awfully remote.
For Americans, the iconic depiction of the foreign presence in the Spanish Civil war was
pretty much limited to For Whom the Bell Tolls, starring Gary Cooper and another Other, twice-
removed, the Swedish Ingrid Bergman playing Spanish for an American audience, and based on the
novel by Ernest Hemingway. Much has been written about the Civil War films to date; I need not
repeat it. In general, it is fair to say that those international presences, and the war itself are all
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—17
but blotted out of film in Spain during Franco's lifetime. An ardent defender of Raza16 in response
to the generally-held belief that it gives jingoistic, manichean view of the war, pointed out the the
Germans are completely invisible, calling it a merit in the film! (IMDB review). In Carlos Saura's La
caza (1966), the war is only vaguely alluded to, and the appearance of a German pistol is the only
clue to the character's nazi collaborationist past. Later, he was increasingly able to address the
war with increasingly less elliptical allusions to the erasure of the war's history in El jardín de las
delicias (1970), La prima Angélica (1974), or Cría cuervos (1976), but treated it head-on in his
adaptation of Sanchis Sinisterra's play, ¡Ay, Carmela! (1990). In that film, Saura adapts the
twinkling projector that represents the Italian operetta director and has a host of Italian
characters who eat spaghetti, share smokes, sing opera, and are in every way more sympathetic
than the Spanish nacionals (although such last sensibility leads Saura's Caudillo to denounce all
Italian men as pansies). , ¡Ay, Carmela! was one of the first films that gave humanizing screen time
to a brigadista, as well, in the persons of the "polacos" with whom Carmela and Paulino are
Vicente Aranda's Libertarias (1996) may well have romanticized the female brigadistas, but
they were possible, if not entirely plausible, characters from Spain's history that the filmgoing
public wanted to meet. Their slaughter by North African mercenaries at the end put on screen as
only Aranda can the horror of the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War. Ken Loach's Tierra y libertad
(1995), may be argued to have pictured the anarchists in an overly favorable light, ably aided by the
stunning performance by Icíar Bollaín, but it was the first coherent attempt to examine the intra-
1942, directed by José Luis Sáenz de Heredia, one of the foremost filmmakers in the early Franco years, before arriving
at the whimper of his last film, Solo ante el streaking (1975). Sáenz de Heredia, not incidentally a cousin of José Antonio
Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish Falange, based his film on a script by General Franco himself, under the
pseudonym of Jaime de Andrade.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—18
and international forces that lead to the Republican defeat and the ideological goals and methods
that splintered the Spanish left.
Luis García Berlanga's La vaquilla (1985, with the collaboration of Rafael Azcona) marked a
turning point in depicting the Spanish Civil War on film, for it accorded humanity to the men and
women on both sides of the conflict, and after it, Trueba's La niña de tus ojos (1988) simply seemed
opportunistic. Francesc Betriu's La Plaça del Diamant (1981) was a sort of national catharsis for the
other Spain, and along with a number other post-Franco films, depicted Republican Spain during the
Civil War and after, to greater or lesser success, but only touched very briefly on the international
component the the struggle. More important to both Rodoreda and Betriu was the Castilian Other
and the Catalan Haute Bourgeoisie that pacted with them.17
Such Transition-era films as Aranda's screen version of the Vázquez Montalbán novel,
Asesinato en el Comité Central. Made in 1981, in the shadow of the failed coup attempt (23 F), it is
a surprisingly blunt look at that complicated and fragile moment in Spanish history, the Transition
from dictatorship to democracy. The anomalous positions people find themselves in is forced into
high relief by a finger-licking locked room mystery in which the victim is a thinly-veiled Santiago
Carrillo, and the suspects are all members of the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist
Party (PCE). Vázquez Montalbán and Aranda are credited with collaborating on the screenplay,
which looks to have been written simultaneously with the novel, and follows the book so closely that
the actors practically could have learned their dialogues straight from the paperback. However,
Aranda has made no secret that he differs from Vázquez Montalbán politically. While the novelist
was a militant member of the PSUC (the Catalan Communist Party), Aranda proclaimed himself
faithful to the anarchic tradition he learned at home. In retrospect, the film is surprising in its
Tu nombre envenena mis sueños (1996), Pilar Miró;
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—19
dialectical tension, some of which can certainly be ascribed to tension between novelist and
director. Compared to recent films like Montxo Armendáriz’s manichean Silencio roto, where the
smallest pretense at even-handedness is cheered by some critics, Asesinato has ambiguous shades
of gray to spare. The Party is hardly romanticized in Vázquez Montalbán’s narrative, and even less
so by Aranda. Visually, the film exists in dialectical tension as well. Teresa Font, in her first film
edited for Aranda, shows her capacity for leaving a shot on screen just long enough, and not a split
second longer. As Carmela ( a "militante de la puta base," played by Victoria Abril) drives Carvalho
to his first meeting with a cadre of party hardliners cum suspects, just as she expresses disbelief
that anyone could wish to kill Garrido/Carrillo, we flash by graffiti that Vázquez Montalbán
probably did not suggest or condone. It reads, “Paracuellos vengado” (Paracuellos avenged), an
allusion to a tragedy that occurred in the mountain town of Paracuellos del Jarama early in the Civil
War, in November of 1936. In the outskirts of the town, more than two thousand Francoist
prisoners, including military personnel but also many civilians—comfortably-off burghers, Falangists,
and prominent conservatives, including the relatively innocuous popular comic playwright Muñoz
Seca, were murdered between the 7th of November and the 3rd of December. More than 10,000
prisoners had been moved from Madrid to outlying Paracuellos because of the fear that Franco’s
army, already in Alcorcón, Leganés, and Getafe, would march into the capital and liberate them,
thereby hugely increasing their forces.
According to Bardavío and Sinova in Todo Franco, the Francoist propaganda machine brought
up the event at every possible opportunity to discredit the Communist party and its undisputed
leader in exile, Santiago Carrillo, basing the personal accusation on the fact that Carrillo was named
Republican Chief of Public Order of the Junta of Defense of Madrid under General Miaja on
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—20
November 6th, one day before he killings began. Therefore, the logic went, not only must he have
known about the sinister events, but in fact have ordered them. Say Bardavío and Sinova:
Carrillo siempre negó tener nada que ver con los asesinatos y afirmó, por el contrario, que
trató de impedirlos y de exigir responsabilidades cuando tuvo noticia de ellos.
(495 Carrillo always denied having had anything to do with with the murders and affirmed,
to the contrary, that he tried to stop them when he got word of them).
Carrillo’s denial, of course, was not heard in Spain until he returned to the country after Franco’s
death. Aranda, in any case, stands out for allowing that there is more than one point of view to be
had on the matter, and that the worst thing one can do is not discuss it.
6. “Vente a Alemania, Pepiño”
In the last two months of the war and immediately after, some 400,000 Spaniards the
border into France, and many sailed from there to the New World. About 10,000 more exiles were
taken by Republican ship to Tunisia, from whence they scattered widely.18 All this, when combined
with the slow leak of Spaniards fleeing from the start of the war through the 1950s amounts a
staggering number of Spaniards in exile. These are added to the one and a half million economic
refugees who emmigrated to different American countries between 1880 and 1913.19
This huge group of “Outland” Spaniards influenced the peninsula in their absence, through
their letters, plays, novels, and films, and formed a number of important literary and cinematic
figures. One area in which Republican exiles exerted a huge influence was in the North American
University study of Peninsular Spanish. An entire generation of scholars and schools of thought
were formed largely by them, as was the consideration of the canon in 20th century Spanish
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—21
The flow back and forth of exiles between Latin American and Spain also affected cinema
on three continents, and not in the simplistic way that is sometimes presented. The Republican in
exile is a character in a number of Latin American films, like Argentine Luis Puenzo’s 1985 film, La
historia oficial, where Héctor Alterio’s character, Roberto, is the son of an exile who becomes just
as reactionary as the forces his father battled.
However, the portrayal of the exiles is not always so flattering. Marcos Zurinaga’s 1997
The Disappearance of García Lorca has a reactionary political subtext in which the Republican exile
is portrayed as an unwashed, pusilanimous alcoholic, who has been living the life of Riley in Puerto
Rico, claiming to have suffered for his cause, when actually HE is the lowdown running dog who shot
the poet of Fuentevaqueros. Perhaps this highly arguable slant is not surprising, considering that
the film stars Miami Cuban Andy García; ironically, García is actually the best thing in the film, a
wonderful Lorca, showing he surely studied the existing film records to master the mannerisms.
Still, the film was released with the preposterous claim that it was based on books by Ian Gibson,
so one expected better.
Spanish entertainers who triumphed abroad during the Franco decade sometimes presented
a sort of stylized lisping metrosexuality (consider Raphael, Camilo Sesto, Joselito, or Julio Iglesias).
Rocío Dúrcal and María Dolores Pradera learned local idioms, but although both Pili and Mili were in
Mexico, they were never of it, just as Hayley Mills was never American. While “genuine” Spanish
child stars like Marisol (Pepa Flores) were popular and received almost reverently, nevertheless,
when a Spanish character was portrayed by a Mexican actor in film, the intent was usually parodic
of the perceived “Thpanith thenth of thuperiority.” A good example of this is the 1984 comedy, Ni
Chana ni Juana, in which La India María (María Elena Velasco, Mexico’s best box-office draw)
This information comes from the entry titled, “Exilio,” in Todo Franco: Franquismo y antifranquismo de la A a la Z, by
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—22
directs herself playing twins separated at birth; one raised in poverty in Mexico, and the other in
snooty society in Madrid.20
6b. . . . or How Many Gastarbeiter does it take to Screw in a Wirtschaftswunder?
De noche a verte, Ave María
de noche a verte,
de noche a verte, ¿cómo quie-
-res que vaya Ave María?
de noche a verte, ¿cómo quie-
-res que vaya Ave María
de noche a verte?
… De noche a verte, yo le te-
mo a tu padre, Ave María
más que a la muerte . . .
¡Yo que quisiera es que se fue-
ra a Alemania, Ave María,
y no volviera!
sevillana popular in the early 70s
Joaquín Bardavío and Justino Sinova, 2000.
From Francisco J. Romero Salvadó, 13.
It’s actually hysterially funny, but with that undercurrent of sadness that one finds in Whoopi Goldberg films of the same
period—the plucky heroine who is treated with shocking disregard by people whose skin is lighter. In many ways, Velasco
appeals to the same sort of audiences as Spain’s Paco Martínez Soria—the ordinary man and woman in the street who are
“pobres” or even “probes pero honrados.”
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—23
The emergence from the burnt-out shell of autarchy was slow, as Franco struggled to
rehabilitate his image from Fascist to vigorous Christian and prematurely anti-communist. One
factor that caused Spaniards to relocate in Europe was the phenomenon of the Gastarbeiter. After
World War II, between war deaths and the disappearance of Nazi slave labor, Germany was
seriously short-handed of workers, as were France and Switzerland. Given Spain’s postwar poverty
and unemployment it made sense for Franco to export his problems and import German capital
subsidies. A majority of these guestworkers were men without their families who worked and sent
money home, came on visits, and eventually returned to Spain. Still some resettled with the entire
family, and both groups had significant impact on Spanish film. In the late sixties and early
seventies, the most frequent Spanish Gastarbeiter on film are men—lonely, horny men who are
ultimately attracted more to Spanish good catholic women than to the superficial “liberated” women
they supposedly encounter abroad. Writer-director team, Pedro Lazaga and Vicente Escrivà,
practically had a small cottage industry with this gag. Some examples are “Vente a Alemania, Pepe,”
(1971), París bien vale una moza (1972), El abominable hombre de la Costa del Sol, (1970) or, Vente
a Ligar al oeste (1972). A much more resonant picture of the long-term results of the guestworker
upheaval can be seen in Subjúdice (1998, Josep María Forn), in which Icíar Bollaín plays the
daughter of Andalusian emmigrants to Germany who returns to Spain, only to be considered an
undesirable foreigner in Barcelona by the Catalan bourgeoisie.21
With the conclusion of bilateral accords in 1953, American military bases were built in
Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), Rota (Cádiz), and Zaragoza, and in exchange, Spain received over a
billion dollars in humanitarian aid over the next decade. Meanwhile, the soldiers and their families
As if we needed another reason to love her, Bollaín speaks very meritorious Catalán in the film.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—24
brought with them rock and roll, hippie fashions, attempts at free love, and whiffs of marijuana.22
The classic film anticipating this moment was Luis García Berlanga’s 1952 ¡Bienvenido Míster
Marshall! Wendy Rolph sees it as a landmark as “prototypical Castilian villagers enthusiastically
prepare to welcome their American visitors by ‘performing’ their Spanishness” . . . (12). The theme
of hyper-Iberian performance and regional cross-dressing has recurred since with regularity, often
self-consciously, though on occasion, unaware of the show. Ramón Masats’ 1970 Topical Spanish
mixes this performance anxiety with the genre of pop band wacky film in which the lads (and
lassies) act up and out in photo montages a la Help or Hard Day’s Night. The group is called Los
Iberos, but in fact is a complex hybridization of an essentially Castilian band whose lead singer,
Guillermina Motta, was in reality a rising star of the nova canço catalana. To add to the hilarity, the
group sings in English, “como mandaban los cánones del momento” (Santos Zunzunegui 96).23 Like
Berlanga, Masats gets laughs from his Spanish characters’ attempts to perform as typical and
topical. Juan Carlos Serrano has a Swedish girlfriend—the coveted sueca!—but she and the other
groupies wait modestly, patiently knitting while their men perform on stage. The credits,
“debidamente adobados con un potpourri de zarzuelas y pasodobles,” occur while Juan Carlos and
the Swedish girlfriend walk through the kitschy splendor of Barcelona’s Poble Espanyol:
[Juan Carlos] aprovecha el marco y la ocasión para endilgar a la joven (y al espectador, de
paso) toda una colección de típicos tópicos acerca del carácter idiosincrásico de los
españolitos de a pie. Tópicos que encontrarán una réplica adecuada en la joven nórdica que,
Emilio Martínez Lázaro’s Carreteras secundarias (1997) includes a fascinating look back at Torrejón after the Yankees
Unfortunately, things have not changed as much as Zunzunegui might wish; for a look at another cinematic band that sings
in English in a Spanish film, see my discussion of Deviot in “On a Role with Recent Spanish Cinema: Daniel Monzón and El
corazón del guerrero,” Cine-Lit, Fall 2004.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—25
ante la referencia a la crueldad hispánica, recordará a su pareja que ella vio “en Suecia una
película española en la que se pasaba todo el tiempo matando conejos24.” (97)
In the end, as Zunzunegui concludes, Topical Spanish is far from topical, and anything but typical of
the Spanish film of the 70s (97).
Manuel Gómez Pereira continues to play with “playing Spanish,” in Boca a boca (1995).
Javier Bardem’s character, an actor, first auditions for a part by performing a Donald O’Conner-
esque dance number in English-sounding gibberish, and then changes out of his normal Spanish
clothes into a waiter’s garb unbuttoned almost to the waist, and slicks back his hair with olive oil in
order to convince an American casting director that he can play Spanish on film.
7. The City’s not for Paco Martínez Soria, Alfredo Landa, or Tony Leblanc
Moreover, within Spain the composition of the population had changed drastically. The
years between 1959 and 1973 saw the urban migration of some three million Spaniards from rural
areas, principally to Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and Bilbao (Romero Salvadó 148). This reshuffling
within Spain had dramatic impact on regional languages, customs, urban growth, and on redefining
both city and country. In Postmodern Paletos: Immigration, Democracy, and Globalization in Spanish
Narrative and Film, 1950-2000, Nathan E. Richardson avers:
By the late 1960s . . . [Spanish] audiences flocked to a series of formulaic comedies later
referred to as paleto films . . . [that] playfully reflected the plight . . . and ultimate triumph
of the films’ country bumpkin protagonists over a bewildering urban culture. (72)
Pedro Lazaga contributed generously to comedies based on Spaniards traveling to the city,
to resorts, or abroad. Another “paleto” director, Ignacio F. Iquino, and is significantly different in
its—dare I say it?—thrust. In his De picos pardos (1969) the mayor and secretary of a small town
go to Madrid to buy a bus, and take advantage of the visit to go wild with the captital’s sexy
An obvious reference to Carlos Saura’s La caza.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—26
nightlife. Iquino, who had made over a hundred films before he died in 1994, was arguably little
interested in “social therapy by which rural immigrants could ‘face their demons’ . . . while
confirming traditional francoist prorural and antiurban values” (Nathan 221)25 and fascinated with
Lazaga’s La ciudad no es para mí (1966), based on a play of the same name by Fernando
Ángel Lozano,27 perhaps initiates a new cycle of paleto cinema, but there are numerous films made
throughout the forties and fifties that pave the way. In Un viaje sin destino (Rafael Gil, 1942),
Poveda, who works in a tourist agency, organizes a trip that ends up with his clients in a sinister old
country house. The film milks laughs out of the city folks’ fear of the country. Juan Antonio
Bardem’s Cómicos (1954), has a significant dose of urban corruption. Later,Recluta con niño (Pedro
Luis Ramírez 1955) and its remake, Cateto a Babor (Ramón Fernández 1970) use the mandatory
military service of a country bumpkin in charge of his orphaned little brother to show the
urbanizing influence of the mili. Villa Alegre, directed by Alejandro Perla in 1956, has José Isbert
playing exactly the sort of obstructionist “atónito palurdo” that Machado immortalized in Campos
de Castilla, a man stubbornly trying to keep progress out because he fears losing control in his small
domain. In this way, the film is a good example of a constant counterpoint in the Spanish
rural/urban tension on film. On the one hand are all of the stories of lives ruined and virtue lost
when leaving the country for the city (like Nieves Condes’ much-studied and oft-maligned Surcos,
1951), but on the other is the vast naturalist tradition of seeing rural Spain as a terrifying abyss of
Part of this is Richardson’s summary of an article by Mareia García de León, “El paleto” (36-40).
If you doubt this, consider a selected list of titles of films Iquino made after Picos: Esas chicas tan pu... (1982), Jóvenes
amiguitas buscan placer (1982), Inclinación sexual al desnudo (1982), Los sueños húmedos de Patrizia (1981), La desnuda chica
del relax (1981), La caliente niña Julieta (1981), ¿Podrías con cinco chicas a la vez? (1979), Las que empiezan a los quince años
(1978), Emanuelle y Carol (1978), Los violadores del amanecer (1978), Fraude matrimonial (1977), Las marginadas (1977),
Chicas de alquiler (1974), Aborto criminal (1973), or Busco tonta para fin de semana (1973).
Richardson infers that this is a pseudonym for Fernando Lázaro Carreter, but I have not been able to verify it (221).
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—27
ignorance and superstition. Emilia Pardo Bazán’s story, “Un destripador de antaño,” shows this in the
extreme when a stepmother kills her husband’s child and renders the girl’s fat to sell to an
apothecary as “unto de moza,” believing this horrifying ingredient is what makes his salves
effective. Village ignorance is aided and abetted by a priest who, like Unamuno’s don Manuel,
conspires to keep the parishoners in happy ignorance.28
Jaime de Armiñán’s 1979 film, El nido, ends in tragedy at least in part because of a small
town’s small-mindedness, even though the landed gentry, in the person of don Alejandro (Héctor
Alterio), is a gentleman, not a vile opportunist, and although the parish priest, don Eladio (Luis
Politti), is an understanding liberal who came to the priesthood later in life, after considerable
It is a mistake to aver that Franco-era films consistently praised a noble countryside and
warned of the evils of the city, or that films of the past 20 years have done the opposite. Post
Franco, the tension certainly continues. On the one hand, there is the syndrome of the idealized
pastoral, symbolized in Le bonheur est dans le pré (Étienne Chatiliez,1995, starring Carmen Maura,
and hugely popular in Spain). It is also there in the idealized memories of a remote, happy
childhood in the village to which Ricky returns in Átame (Almodóvar, 1990). It enlivens Mónica
Laguna’s 1996 Tengo una casa, and Fernando Trueba’s oscar-winning Belle époque, in which the
countryside in the spring it is still possible to find a moment of romance and innocent happiness
before all hell breaks loose.
On the other hand are films that show how the ignorance of the countryside makes
repression worse. This may be in historical dramas like La lengua de las mariposas (José Luis Cuerda
1999), Silencio roto (Montxo Armendáriz 2001), or in psychological thrillers in which horror lurks
San Manuel Bueno, mártir.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—28
just outside urban normalcy. Think of Adosados (1996, directed by Mario Camus and based on the
novel by Félix Bayón), or Una casa en las afueras (1995, Pedro Costa), in which bad things happen
the minute good people move to the burbs or beyond. Fernando Fernán Gómez’s El viaje a ninguna
parte (1986) certainly presents a less than idealized view of rural Spain in the 40s and 50s, and
Pídele cuentas al rey (José Antonio Quirós 1999), is similarly unsentimental in retelling the true
story of Fidel, an unemployed Asturian miner who sets out on foot for Madrid to ask the king in
person for his constitutional right to be employed. The notion is played for comedy in Garci’s 1979
Las verdes praderas in which Alfredo Landa leaves the city and enters a hell that can only be
escaped when his longsuffering wife (María Casanova) torches the chalet for the insurance.
8. Calientes suecas en Ibiza
Says Romero Salvadó, “Spain’s successful economic miracle was possible without balance of
payment problems . . . owing to three main factors: a huge increase in earnings from foreign
tourism; emigrant remittances; and a renewal of foreign investment” (148). So successful was the
campaign to attract tourists, says Romero Salvadó, “earnings from tourism almost wiped out Spain’s
trade deficit as well as generating jobs in southern areas traditionally plagued by unemployment . . .
In “Selling Spanish Otherness Since the 1960s,” Dorothy Kelly avers:
When in the 1960s the tourist slogan “Spain is different” was launched, the intention was to
attract tourists to an “exotic” destination, with interesting local customs and traditions
differing from the European norm. . . . [T]his slogan fit in well with the Franco regime’s
deliberate effort to promote, both internally and externally, positive constructions of
Spanishness as opposed to negative versions of foreign otherness. . . .Spain’s ills were
blamed on the corrupting influence of foreign ideas imported by the internal “other,” the
left, the working classes, and other opposition groups. (30)
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—29
While this is very true, From Carlos V29 to Queen Sofía, Spain had already seen a parade of
monarchs whose Castillian diction was precarious, and this entroned Otherness frequently gave the
governed a lot to talk about. This strain explodes in the nineteenth century when the afrancesados
contrast with those who would rather cry “¡Vivan las cadenas!” (long live our chains”) than bow to
foreign influence. Luis Buñuel’s 1974 film, Le fantôme de la liberté , includes a dying Spaniard who
utters this line that seems incongruous and surreal, but is actually historical fact. Although the war
cry revealed a certain anti-intellectual bias, it probably also showed great perspicacity regarding
the kind of “freedom” the Napoleonic forces were likely to bring with them to Spain. On the other
hand Gomaespuma30 saw a continuity with the slogan to the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century:
De hecho, el eslogan oficial de la Oficina de Turismo de entonces (ya que todavía no se había
inventado lo de Spain is different) era la repetida frase “¡Vivan las cadenas!” . . .frase que,
además de expresar el sometimiento voluntario del pueblo a su dictador, favorecía la venta
de una marca de anís en perjuicio de otras . . . (133)
Be that as it may, the uninhibited sueca who vacationed on the beaches and in the discos
created a somewhat different mythology of topless, blond sexual ambition, and to woo her, a
Spanish man could well be assisted by helpful Italian popular crooners like Domenico Modugno
(“Volare” 1958), or practically any other Sanremo Festival winner. Foreign soccer stars helped fill
the stadiums, and their popularity sometimes spilled onto the silver screen. Argentine Alfredo Di
Stefano (who won five consecutive European cups for the Real Madrid from 1956-60), had a part in
Rovira Beleta’s classic 1954 soccer film, Once pares de botas, and Hungarian Ladislao Kubala (Barça
Moncho Alpuente describes him deliciously as, “un rey con mala sombra en un imperio en el que no se pone el sol” (131). He
goes on to tell for laughs another cliché popular among tourists an Latin Americans, “Parece ser que el emperador ceceaba un
poco al hablar pero sus cortesanos lo achacaban a su acento alemán, algunos incluso llegaron a imitar su habla . . . y zu
ezcelencia no penzaba que le eztaban tomando el pelo” (133).
Stage name of two journalists, Guillermo Fesser and Juan Luis Cano, who began collaborating as “Gomaespuma” in 1982 at
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—30
star between 1950-8) actually had a i 1955 film drama based on him, Los ases buscan la paz (Arturo
Ruiz Castillo), that stressed the soccer ace’s hair-raising escape from the clutches of the Goulash
Foreign women may have been viewed as sexually more liberated, but that does not mean
that the average macho ibérico thought this made the foreign female smart, respectable, or
desirable in the long term. One horrifying case in point would be the entire career of German-
Polish import Roswitha Bertahasa Honzcar 31, better known in Spain as Nadiuska. Nadiuska’s first
Spanish role was in Vicente Escrivá’s 1973 Lo verde empieza en los Pirineos, which tells the story of
three friends who clamber into a seiscientos and putt-putt across the border into France in search
of topless beaches, sex, and uncut porn. The irony is that Serafín (José Luis López Vázquez), made
impotent by a repressive childhood, falls in love with Nadiuska, who plays a Spanish Gastarbeiter
maid in the hotel where the three horny Hispanics are housed. It is ostensibly the home-grown,
hard working Spanish girl—educated by nuns and equipped with generous heart, decolletage and
savings account—who cures Serafín’s neurosis. Of course, Nadiuska’s dialogues have to be dubbed
so that she will not reveal herself to be exactly what the celluloid Spaniards are seeking—a foreign
girl with va-va-va-voom. Thus, the film contradicts what Peter Besas calls its “implicit moral . . . that
though there may be more bikinis and freedom abroad, Spain, in the last analysis is to be
The same year Nadiuska appeared in Manolo la nuit, in which the title character (Alfredo
Landa) works as a tourist guide in Torremolinos, living it up with uninhibited foreigners until his
long-suffering wife tricks him into returning home with a fake pregnancy. In 1974’s Soltero y
padre en la vida (Javier Aguirre), Nadiuska plays Gunilla, a hippy with poor hygiene from . . . well,
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—31
from somewhere else; maybe Denmark. Lit is enough to know that, like the narrator’s love object in
the song, “Tatuaje,” our Gunilla has a “nombre extranjero.” The serious political protest and unrest
through which Spain was living is completely trivialized by Nadiuska’s character, who states that
handwashing is a bourgeois practice and hides out with a morally upright perfumist, Alonso Crespo
Martín (Pepe Sacristán) when her crash pad is raided for drugs by police. During her stay, Alfonso
gives Gunilla a good washing and some typical Spanish sperm. She returns from her wandering nine
months later, gives birth, and leaves the baby with Alonso and goes to China with Chairman Mao’s
little red book in hand. In ten years, she realizes her mistake, and can only remedy her empty
communist life by marrying Alonso, becoming Spanish, and accepting her proper place. The sexy
foreignness embodied by Nadiuska on film was desirable, but needed domesticating if she were to
be a main charracter. Nadiuska made a series of similarly depressing films in Spain from 1974 to
76 and by 1982 the beginning of the end of her career came when she played Conan the Barbarian’s
mother and was decapitated by James Earl Jones.
One wishes to report that these stereotypes had disappeared entirely from popular Spanish
film, but one recent example serves to contradict such optimism. Cuadri’s Gran vida (2000), for
example, has an early scene that shows bus drivers discussing which foreign destination is best for
sexual tourism. In 1997, Juanma Bajo Ulloa gets a lot of laughs in Airbag from Nathalie Seseña as a
prostitute who earns more money by pretending to be an exotic Argentine.
Foreign women’s sex drives are generally depicted in Spanish film as inversely proportional
to their IQs. In other words, the thinking seems to run that the woman must not be all that smart
to give away what she could sell or trade. In fact, in Cuadri’s film, Carmelo Gómez’s character is
suicidal until he meets a beautiful young Mexican Lola (Salma Hayek). Lola is desirable as Other,
Maybe this is her real name and nationality; a lot of spelling variations appear in the different tabloids where she was
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—32
but unlike the stereotypical sueca, she speaks proper Spanish, is extremely hard to get, and is more
reminiscent of the española of “El beso”32 than of a young Spanish woman today.
Spanish films from the fifties through now are littered with foolish American women
tourists or students who are easily confused and manipulated by savvy Spanish men. Let us call it
the “Tesis de Nancy” syndrome to save time.33 Colomo uses this as recently as 1998 in Los años
bárbaros, where the bravery of two real-life Barbaras—Probst Solomon and Mailer—was
substantially diminished by their thinly-veiled portrayal as spoiled rich girls with little or no
ideological savvy who nearly faint at the sight of morcilla—which of course the Spanish characters
want to give them literally and figuratively.34 Ultimately, though, the best Spanish film at present
succeeds when it is able to balance the ability to look critically, evaluatively, at Self and Other, and
likewise, when it is able to have equal humor or vitriol or heart for both.
prone to being written about.
“La española cuando besa, es que besa de verdad, y a ninguna le interesa/ besar por frivolidad…” by Juan Legido. Made
famous by Concha Piquer and Celia Gámez
Nancy is a creation of another Republican exile, Ramón J. Sender, and her first adventure appeared in 1962. Nancy is a
naïve American student who spends a year living in Alcalá de Guadaira and studying in Seville in order to write a thesis on
Gypsies. She tells her story through letters to a friend at home, all of which reveal how little she understands of what
transpires, and prove over and over that American women are loose but not very bright. On the first page, she ponders the
mystery of “gorilla warfare” in Spain, given that the great apes are not native to the Iberian Peninsula, so we are talking
Rosa Montero calls this “humor inteligente” and remarks, “¿qué puede llegar a entender una estudiante americana de la
cultura de esa España profunda llena de tópicos? Probablemente nada, pero de demostrárnoslo se encargará Nancy en su
tesis.” Spanish literary historians usually either see Sender’s divertissment as a critical view of Spanish society from an
exile, or wistful and nostalgic view of the same, though they all seem to agree it is thigh-slappingly funny. Nancy’s
misadventures are told in five books: La tesis de Nancy (México: Atenea, 1962), Nancy, doctora en gitanería, (Madrid:
Magisterio Españo, 1973), Nancy y el bato loco, (Madrid: Magisterio Español, 1974) Gloria y vejamen de Nancy, (Madrid:
Magisterio Español, 1977) and Epílogo a Nancy: Bajo el signo de Taurus (México: Mexicanos Unidos, 1979). What is most
funny to me is how many language schools in Spain that specialize in Spanish for foreigners advertise La tesis de Nancy as
part of their pedagogical materials on the web. One school even pairs it with Eduardo Mendoza’s Sin noticias de Gurb, so
that the Nancy’s alien status is made completely clear!
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—33
Alarcón, Pedro Antonio. “El clavo.”
Almendros, Néstor. Días de una cámara. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1982 (originally published in
French in 1980).
Alpuente, Moncho. Grandezas de España: La historia más grande jamás contada con menos
escrúpulos. Madrid: Aguilar, 2000.
Atienza, Juan G. La ruta sagrada. Quoted by Miguel Soler Gracia,
Besas, Peter. Behind the Spanish Lens: Spanish Cinema under Fascism and Democracy. Denver:
Arden Press, 1985.
Burgos, Antonio. “El picotazo: Santiago Matamoros cabalga de nuevo en El Ejido.” Onda Cero Radio,
8 Feb. 2000.
Camiña, Ángel. “Bwana.” In Cine para lleer, 1996. Bilbao: Ediciones Mensajero, 1997.
Casona, Alejandro. La molinera de Arcos. In Obras completas, tomo I . México: Aguilar, 1954.
Costa, Antonio. Storia del cinema italiano. http://www.muspe.unibo.it/corso/corsi/sci/sintlez3.htm
D’Lugo, Marvin. The Films of Carlos Saura: The Practice of Seeing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
Gasca, Luis. Un siglo de cine español. Barcelona: Planeta, 1998.
Gil de Muro, Eduardo T. In Cine para lleer, 1996. Bilbao: Ediciones Mensajero, 1997.
Gomaespuma (Guillermo Fesser and Juan Luis Cano). Grandes disgustos de la historia de España: ¡Pa
habernos matao! Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 1993.
Goytisolo, Juan. “Los mitos fundadores de la nación española.” El País. 14 Nov. 1996, p. 11.
“Román Gubérn, el MacLuhan o el eco español”
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—34
Hart, Patricia. The Spanish Sleuth. Cranbury, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987.
Hegyi, Ottmar. Cervantes and the Turks. Juan de la Cuesta, 1992.
Higginbotham, Virginia. Spanish Film Under Franco. Austin: U of Texas P, 1988.
Hopewell, John. Out of the Past: Spanish Cinema After Franco. London: British Film Institute,
Kelly, Dorothy. “Selling Spanish ‘Otherness’ since the 1960s.” In Barry Jordan and Rikki Morgan-
Tamosunas. Contemporary Spanish Cultural Studies. London: Arnold, 2000, 29-37.
Kinder, Marsha. Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain. Berkley and Los
Angeles: UCLA P, 1993.
Lawton, Ben. “Italian Neorealism: A Mirror Construction of Reality.” Film Criticism. Voll III, No 2
(winter, 1979) 8-23.
Machado, Antonio. Campos de Castilla.
Marcus, Millicent. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1986.
Pou, Josep Maria.
Rolph, Wendy. “¡Bienvenido Míster Marshall¡” In Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition. Ed.
Peter William Evans. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Richardson, Nathan E. Postmodern Paletos: Immigration, Democracy, and Globalization in Spanish
Narrative and Film, 1950-2000. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2002.
Romero Salvadó, Francisco J. Twentieth Century Spain: Politics and Society in Spain, 1898-1998.
New York: St. Martin’s, 1999.
Sánchez Albornoz, Claudio. Orígenes de la Nación Española. El Reino de Asturias.
Madrid: Sarpe, 1975. Quoted in Goytisolo.
Turismo y cine Patricia Hart—Purdue—35
Vázquez Montalban, Manuel. Crónica sentimental de España: Una mirada irreverente a tres décadas
de mitos y de ensueños. Barcelona: Brughera, 1971.
Vizcaíno Casas, Fernando. Historia y anécdota del cine español. Madrid: Ediciones Adra, 1976.
Willem, Linda, Ed. Carlos Saura Interviews. Jacson: U P of Mississippi, 2003.
Zunzunegui, Santos. Historias de España: ¿De qué hablamos cuando hablamos del cine español?
Valencia: Ediciones de la Filmoteca, 2002.