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A Cinema of Contradiction

Spanish Film in the 1960s

Sally Faulkner

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A key decade in world cinema, the 1960s was also a crucial era of change in Spain. A Cinema of Contradiction, the first book to focus in depth on this period in Spain, analyses six films that reflect and interpret these transformations. The coexistence of traditional and modern values and the timid acceptance of limited change by Franco's authoritarian regime are symptoms of the uneven modernity that characterises the period. Contradiction - the unavoidable effect of that unevenness - is the conceptual terrain explored by these six filmmakers.

One of the most significant movements of Spanish film history, the 'New Spanish Cinema' art films explore contradictions in their subject matter, yet are themselves the contradictory products of the state's protection and promotion of films that were ideologically opposed to it. A Cinema of Contradiction argues for a new reading of the movement as a compromised yet nonetheless effective cinema of critique. It also demonstrates the possible contestatory value of popular films of the era, suggesting that they may similarly explore contradictions. This book therefore reveals the overlaps between art and popular film in the period, and argues that we should see these as complementary rather than opposing areas of cinematic activity in Spain.

Key Features:

  • The first book-length study of Spanish cinema of the 1960s in English
  • Includes case studies of six key films: La gran familia (The Great Family), La ciudad no es para mí (The City's Not For Me), Los farsantes (Frauds), La tía Tula (Aunt Tula), Nueve cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta) and La caza (The Hunt)
  • Considers Spanish popular cinema of the period
  • Offers a detailed analysis of one of the key artistic movements of the Franco dictatorship in Spain, the 'Nuevo Cine Español' (New Spanish Cinema).


Introduction: Contexts
1. Franco's Great Family: La gran familia (The Great Family, Palacios 1962)
2. Civilising the City in La ciudad no es para mí (The City's Not For Me, Lazaga 1965)
3. Reality and Pretence in Los farsantes (Frauds, Camus 1963)
4. Repression and Excess in La tía Tula (Aunt Tula, Picazo 1964)
5. Nationality and Identity in Nueve cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta, Patino 1965)
6. Ageing and Coming of Age in La caza (The Hunt, Saura 1965)
Conclusion: Overlaps

About the Author

Dr Sally Faulkner is a lecturer in Hispanic Studies and Film Studies at the University of Exeter. She is the author of numerous articles on Spanish cinema and the book Literary Adaptations in Spanish Cinema.


This is an excellent study of some of the most interesting films made in Spain in the 1960s. Sally Faulkner’s elegant analysis draws attention to neglected as well as more familiar films in a period of transition. The book is a significant contribution to our understanding of 1960s Spanish cinema, in its popular as well as art-movie traditions.
- Peter Evans, Queen Mary, University of London
The author excels at clarifying the sociohistorical and production contexts of given films, and her innovative research should stimulate film historians to further assess the technical, artistic, and ideological overlaps and cross-fertilization that occurred between [Viejo Cinema Espanol and Nuevo Cinema Espanol]… The volume boasts a thoroughly scholaraly apparatus… Highly recommended.

Throughout the book Faulkner offers perceptive close analysis that nevertheless relates effectively to the industrial and cultural contexts with which her chosen films interact, and the book is thus set to become an essential reference for those working on this era, scholarly enough for postdoctoral researchers while accessible enough for students to use in undergraduate study.

- Studies in Hispanic Cinemas

Following the efficient and persuasive Literary Adaptations in Spanish Cinema [Tamesis, 2004], Faulkner has focused on six films from the sixties which she analyses discretely and perceptively with reference to meaning, production and distribution, to demonstrate some of the contradictions inherent in the easy but misleading polarisation usually made between [art and popular cinema].

- Forum for Modern Languages Studies

Faulkner’s well-researched, coherent conceptual approach centers on contradiction. The author excels at clarifying the sociohistorical and production contexts of given films, and her innovative research should stimulate film historians to further reassess [the period]. Faulkner’s interpretations of individual films are … insightful, subtle, original, and well argued. The volume boasts a thorough scholarly apparatus. Highly recommended.

- Choice

Plays a key role in changing an established narrative. [...] Faulkner discovers significant combinations of conservative and contestatory values that give new life to both [popular and art film in the period]. [...] Thanks to the clarity of the introduction and to the excellence of her readings her [connection of popular and art cinemas] works. [...] While the individual readings are the book’s most impressive aspect, its key contribution remains Faulkner’s consideration of the surprisingly complex production context of the decade. [...] Faulkner’s work is overall a well-written, convincingly-argued, and important study.

- Revista de Estudios Hispánicos