Spanish cinema influenced by dictatorship

Do you believe all movies are created equal? Do you believe the cinema realm is the same the world over?

On Thursday, Sept. 10, Dr. Jorge Perez, from the University of Kansas ,visited Southern to present information on the evolution of cinema in Spain since the 1950s. The presentation was attended by approximately 175 people.

“I thought it was pretty cool that Dr. Perez discussed seven of the 10 movies we are showing this semester for the Spanish film festival,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies.

“When students and faculty see those particular films this semester, they will have some things in mind that they can be looking for,” he added.

Commercial media during the Francisco Franco dictatorship wanted cinema to focus on the ongoing modernization of Spain.

“There are three main guidelines the national cinema should follow, “Perez said. “Avoid folkloric musicals, which up to that point were the most popular in Spain. The next guideline is to avoid representing signs of poverty or social struggles. You should also avoid featuring the working class.

“The working class were considered defeated in the Spanish Civil War, and were considered political enemies of the Franco regime,” Perez said.

However, comedies and musicals were still the audience’s preferred genres.

“People are going to watch whatever they want to watch, and that’s how it should be,” Perez said.

The Franco regime wanted to ensure films praised the traditional values of the Franco regime. However, in doing so, they downplayed the absence of rights and the strict morality imposed by the Catholic Church.

There are two films, which according to Perez, renewed Spanish cinema: Death of a Cyclist, by Juan Antonio Bardem, from 1955, and Viridiana, by Luis Bunuel, from 1962.

“These films challenged the state image the regime wanted to put,” Perez said. “Especially, they revealed the shortcomings of the modernization process in Franco’s Spain. They also challenged the excessive misunderstood Catholic morality.”

One of the biggest issues in 1950s cinema in Spain is censorship. Something as small as a kiss could not be shown in a film because it was considered sexual in nature.

In the 1950s, the Franco regime received international support for its position. The United States signed an agreement with Spain. It all started with the U.S. putting military bases in Spain in return for economic assistance. As a result, Spain was admitted into UNESCO in 1952 and admitted into the United Nations in 1955. However, one issue that Spaniards still talk about, is the fact that the U.S. financial assistance never came.

During this time, producers renovated the film industry and unorthodox messages began showing cracks in the Franco regime.

“Unfortunately, they did so by still showing sexist attitude that condemned women’s participation in the public sphere,” Perez said.

Women during the Franco regime were met with all kinds of “impediments.” Women could not leave the country or have a passport without permission.

The Spanish film festival is presented by the Missouri Southern Institute of International Studies and the Harrison and June Kash International Film Society. The films are shown at 7 p.m. in Plaster Hall’s Cornell Auditorium each Tuesday. The exception will be the week of fall break, when the movie for the week will be shown on Thursday.