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The Making and Unmaking of Francoist Kitsch Cinema

From Raza to Pan's Labyrinth

Alejandro Yarza

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Examines Francoist and Post-Francoist Spanish cinema through the lens of kitsch aesthetics

In fascist Spain, Francoism – like German and Italian fascism – produced its own particular brand of kitsch. Deploying religious and historical iconography drawn from Spain’s centuries-long struggle against Islam, Francoist ideologues created a kitsch interpretation of Spain’s historical past designed to replace more complex and nuanced accounts, where religious and historical iconography combined with kitsch aesthetics to project a picturesque, clichéd image of Spain. The ultimate goal of this vast production of Francoist kitsch was to produce a submissive subject who, by identifying with Francoist aesthetics, would identify with state ideology.

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Chapter 1: The Petrified Tears of General Franco: Kitsch and Fascism in José Luis Sáenz de Heredia’s Raza

Chapter 2: Romancero Marroquí and the Francoist Kitsch Politics of Time

Chapter 3: Los Últimos de Filipinas: the Spatio-Temporal Coordinates of Francoism

Chapter 4: Surcos: Neorealism, Film Noir and the Puppet Master

Chapter 5: Franco, ese hombre: from Kitsch Artist to Kitsch-Man

Chapter 6: Viridiana: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Chapter 7: Balada triste de trompeta: Of Ghosts and Clowns

Chapter 8: Under the Sign of Saturn: The Labyrinth of Moral Choices in Francoist Spain

Works cited

About the Author

Alejandro Yarza is Associate Professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department and Core Faculty of the Film and Media Studies program at Georgetown University.


Yarza takes us on a scintillating journey, from the grandiose construction of Francoist kitsch as ideology dreamed on the cinema screen to its puncturing, dismantlement and exorcism in key films. Sustained by brilliant, intuitive close readings, the book also offers the opportunity for wider reflections on the phantoms and residues stalking the construction of Spanish cinema images.

- Professor Sarah Wright, Royal Holloway, University of London

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