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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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23. Men of Their Word: From Silence to Screaming


Shaila García-Catalán1

In Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Pedro Almodóvar, 1988), Pepa has a nightmare: her husband Ivan, holding a microphone, compliments and praises all women who parade alongside him. Upon awakening, reality is not very different: Ivan, a dubbing actor, leaves her with a message on the answering machine, as a voice-trace of a body, which is always absent. She asks him for words. He has the words but is unable to face the female. He only grants them when in full flight, like every other Don Juan. If film studies have extensively analysed masculinity mainly from the figure of the hero, always moved by action, in this study, characters will be addressed by what they say, since words construct the speaker.

Being and Having

At a time when the public sphere is openly questioning and asserting individuals based on their sexual identity, Freudian research, claiming that in every person there was a masculine and a feminine side, can now be reasserted. Furthermore, it is currently accepted that sexuality implies an unconscious subjective stance, an unfathomable choice that deals with gender affirmation. Every gender choice also implies a relationship with being. In Lacanian terms, the feminine position deals better with that which is lacking and missing, or with inconsistency, while being able to experience a kind of excess of emotions that overflow. The masculine stance enters, by...

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