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The Cinema of the Swimming Pool

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Edited By Christopher Brown and Pam Hirsch

The swimming pool frequently appears in film not merely as a setting but as a dynamic site where social, political, cultural and aesthetic forces converge. What is it about this space that has so fascinated filmmakers and what kinds of cinematic investigations does it encourage? This collection features essays by an eclectic, international range of film researchers. Amongst the works analysed are classics such as The Cameraman (1928), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and La Piscine (1969); cult hits such as The Swimmer (1968) and Deep End (1970); and more recent representations of the pool in Water Lilies (2007), Sea Point Days (2009) and Ausente (2011). The pool is considered as a realm where artifice meets nature, where public meets private, where sexualities morph and blend; and as a space that reconfigures the relationship between architecture and narrative, in which themes of pollution, spectacle and reflexivity find unique expression. Approaching the swimming pool from a wide range of methodological perspectives, the essays in this collection stake a claim for the enduring significance of this exciting cinematic space.
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CLARA GARAVELLI

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11 The Swimming Pool as a Site of Subversion during the Spanish Transition: The Case of Pepito piscina (1978)

The last decade of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain was signaled by a series of economic reforms that opened the country to foreign investment and tourism. Before long, less inhibited men and women began to appear on the streets of major cities, challenging local society’s traditional mores with their relaxed customs and extravagant clothing.2 This period, described by many critics as a ‘liberal dictatorship’ and an apertura [opening up] to European culture and ways of life, initiated a long-term transition from Francoist immobilism and isolation to democracy.3 Far from being a smooth passage from one stage to another, economic attempts to modernize the country constantly clashed with efforts to perpetuate tradition, reflected in the cinema of the time, in suggestive comedy titles such as El turismo es un gran invento [Tourism is a Great Invention] (Pedro Lazaga, 1968) ← 157 | 158 → and Lo verde empieza en los Pirineos [Smut Starts at the Pyrenees] (Vicente Escrivá, 1973).

The death of Franco in 1975 and the end of film censorship in 1977 had a notable impact on the local film industry and its productions.4 Within the comedy genre, as Steven Marsh has explained, the effect of political change can be perceived in the intricate coexistence of films that were marked by certain ruptures associated with new freedoms, and those that maintained formal continuities with the old regime.5...

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