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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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19. The Bullfighter as an Archetype and Icon of Spanish Masculinity


María del Mar Ramírez Alvarado1

From the end of the nineteenth century, Spanish cinema has depicted a deep-rooted tradition, the art of bullfighting, which in Spain is considered the national holiday. Bullfighting is present in the very emergence of cinema. This is evidenced by the fact that at the end of the nineteenth century, the Lumière brothers filmed a bullfight in Seville. There is no shortage of films that recreate the prelude of bullfights and the intense moment of passionate confrontation that takes place between the bull and the bullfighter. There is a rich cinematographic heritage linked to the masculine world of bullfighting, in which the bull becomes the metaphor for excellence of masculinity and which presents arguments, characters, symbols, spaces and times typical of this universe. It is a powerful theme that has always been present in film production over time, traditionally linked to the stereotypical image of Spain, although with an extraordinary density and specific features in the representation of men, tantamount to the Ancient Greek hero.

From the Origin of Bullfighting to the First Steps of the Filmmaking

There are two important elements linked to the origin of bullfighting. On the one hand, there is the connection ofmanandbull dating back to antiquity, as some cave paintings attest. Domesticated in the Neolithic period, the bull was used for agricultural activities. Different cultures share the bull’s symbolism associated with strength, power, virility, and fertility. According to numerous iconographic...

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