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Men on the Screen

Re-visions of Masculinity in Spanish Cinema (1939-2019)


Edited By Juan Rey

Cinema, whether it is understood as entertainment, business, criticism, or art, is always a reflection of the society in which it is born. Men on the Screen is a review of masculinity in cinema made in Spain by Spanish directors from 1939 to the present. The objective of this volume is, then, to observe the different types of masculinities, whose classification gives rise to a chronology that goes from the man who embodies the dream dreamt by the dictator Franco to the modern man, who is lost in his labyrinth, while also examining the repressed men, those men who have strayed and who live in the city, the rascals and braggarts, those who fight every day just to survive, the petty criminals, those men who divest themselves of the rancid national-Catholicism in order to be themselves, those who are caring, those who harass and kill their prey, the heroes, those who seduce women with their gab, corrupt politicians, those who sell their bodies, grandparents, violent and chauvinistic men, those who live in anguish for the passage of time, and even those immured by repressing and hypocritical morality. All of the masculine categories delineated above indicate that cinema is a reflection of the great changes experienced by Spanish society during these years. During this long period, Spain has gone from being a poor, isolated, dark, sad, politically and religiously depressed country to becoming a dynamic, modern country, one of the great countries of the West. And these transformations, these men, who are diverse, who are in conflict at times, and who are depressed, hopeful, hungry, consumerist, and dreamers—they are what cinema gathers. What follows next is a catalog of men who have wandered and roamed the Spanish screens.

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2. Traitors of the Homeland: The Stigmatization of Reds in Falangist Discourse


Lucia Ballesteros-Aguayo1

“Victorious flags will return at the cheerful step of peace and they will bring up five roses: on the arrows of my quiver.” This was how the Blue Division militiamen sang; after having fought against the Communists in Russia, they returned to Madrid in 1942, the postwar city where the cannons of the front still resounded, a city that had suffered human losses, destruction, and starvation, the consequences of a brutal civil confrontation. It was a war that pitted brother against brother, friend against friend, which caused one of the greatest massacres in the recent history of Spain. It is no coincidence that the same day that the “blue” (Franco) troops returned to Madrid, the film Rojo y Negro (Carlos Arévalo, 1942) was released, and neither is the memory of the war and the “fear” of the “red army,” to which Franco always alludes, become essential elements of post-war cinema.

At this time, cinema, like the press and the radio, played an essential role in the consolidation of the image of the new Regime, since it became a powerful propaganda weapon that allowed, on the one hand, justification for the military uprising and, on the other hand, contributed to the exaltation of the Francoist ideology and the “glorious” and “imperial” past of Spain. The civil conflict was an argument that not only was recurrent, but also one that was essential and indispensable towards artistic creations subsidized by the Francoist State and...

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