Españolada


Españolada
   One useful way to approach Spanish film during the Franco period is to look at the tensions between two distinct approaches to the art: ambitious filmmakers, on the one hand, who seek self-expression or serious comment on social and cultural reality, and on the other, a less auteur-centered kind of popular and traditional cinema known as españolada. Españolada is a pejorative word that refers to a clichéd idea of Spanish culture, centered around flamenco dancing, rural peculiarities, bullfighting, and copla singers. Santander-born José Buchs was one of the first Spanish filmmakers to see the film potential of españolada, which came to maturity in the 1930s with the Imperio Argentina-Florián Rey musicals. The genre reached a summit in the 1950s, although it would soon be questioned both for artistic and ideological reasons. The directors who best represent the genre in the Franco period are Juan de Orduña and Luis Lucia, and emblematic stars are Juanita Reina, Carmen Sevilla, Lola Flores, and Paquita Rico. Examples of españolada can be found particularly in certain popular genres of Francoism, such as costumbrismo and folkloric musicals. In a way, they were also easily accepted outside Spain. From the point of view of the Franco regime, these could work as a reinforcement of Spanish cultural identity and contribute to building an image of a happy country abroad, where problems were easily sorted out with typically Spanish feistiness.
   The first fatal blow to españolada themes came with the Salamanca Conversations, where even a hardliner like García Escudero complained about their triviality and the way they distorted national reality. Although self-respecting auteurs largely avoided these themes, the impact of such approaches in terms of box-office take is undeniable. Some key filmmakers put the tradition into ironical perspective while obviously benefiting from the popular acceptance such images had. A film like ¡Bienvenido Mr. Marshall! (Welcome, Mr. Marshall! 1953) can be described as turning the conventions of españolada upside down, and approach rare during Francoism.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.


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