A History of Spanish Film (1910-2010)

 Guest Author :  Sally Faulkner

I saw my first Almodóvar film, the unforgettable Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, when I was an undergraduate student on a year abroad studying and teaching in Toledo, Spain. I was blown away! I adored the lead actress (Carmen Maura), the pace of the plot, the riotous colour palette, and the myriad references to other films and works of art – I later learned that might be called postmodern intertextuality. I always try to include this film on undergraduate courses for first-year students in the hope it will have the same effect on them! Nearly twenty years later, I was delighted to use a still from another Almodóvar film, “The Flower of My Secret“, on the cover of A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010. It’s an image of another of Spain’s wonderful lead actresses, Marisa Paredes, here depicted alongside her wayward husband in the film, played by Imanol Arias. Almodóvar captures their embrace in a fragmented mirror: the break-up of the image brilliantly matches the break-up of their marriage.

My motivation for writing on Spanish film is not only to share with readers my enthusiasm for the ways directors like Almodóvar use film form. I’m also fascinated by the interpretations that emerge when you place cinema within wider contexts, both intermedial ones (I considered the relationship between film, TV and literature in Literary Adaptations in Spanish Cinema) and political ones (the focus of A Cinema of Contradiction: Spanish Film in the 1960s).

While working on those books I became increasingly interested in questions of social mobility and cultural taste (or what Pierre Bourdieu called the acquisition of ‘cultural capital’). How did Spain’s 1920s industrial boom, the 1940s post-Civil War depression, and the mass movement into the middle classes from the 1960s onwards impact on film culture? As Spain became increasingly urban, industrial, capitalist and consumerist from the 1960s, how did this change what films were about? Do Spanish ‘prestige’, ‘middlebrow’ and ‘heritage’ cinemas exist? I wrote A History of Spanish Film to explore these ideas and to place Almodóvar in the context of over 100 years of filmmaking in Spain.

 Among the book’s highlights:

  • * Uniquely offers extensive close readings of 42 films, which are especially useful to students and teachers of Spanish cinema.
  • * Analyses Spanish silent cinema and films of the Franco era as well as contemporary examples.
  • * Interrogates film’s relations with other media, including literature, pictorial art and television.
  • * Explores both ‘auteur’ and ‘popular’ cinemas.
  • * Establishes ‘prestige’ and the ‘middlebrow’ as crucial new terms in Spanish cinema studies.
  • * Considers the transnationality of Spanish cinema throughout its century of existence.
  • * Contemporary directors covered in this book include Almodóvar, Bollaín, Díaz Yanes and more.


Browse the book A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010at

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About Author :

Sally Faulkner is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Film at the University of Exeter, where she teaches courses on Spanish and European film, Spanish literature and Spanish language. Her research on Spanish film focuses on the intertwining of film, literature, politics, society and cultural taste, and draws on the theories of adaptation studies, intertextuality and intermediality. Faulkner is the author of Literary Adaptations in Spanish Cinema (2004) and A Cinema of Contradiction: Spanish Film in the 1960s (2006). Most recently, she completed A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010 , which she writes about in this blog. Follow her on Twitter.


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