Language and Collective Identity in Buñuel. Propaganda in the Film «España 1936»

  • Ruiz-del-Olmo F
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The Spanish Civil War occupies an important place in the European collective memory. The film language and depiction of that conflict provide an important platform from which to study certain features of the European cultural matrix. This paper examines propaganda films produced by the Republican government, especially those films produced under the supervision of Luis Buñuel, the Spanish surrealist filmmaker. At the start of the war, the Aragonese filmmaker returned to Paris following a summons by the Spanish Foreign Ministry to collaborate with the Spanish embassy in Paris in counterespionage and propaganda. Buñuel’s main task was to gather, organize and edit pro-Republican footage. Unlike films made for viewing in Spain, the Paris-produced propaganda films were aimed at audiences in Europe with the objective of changing the doctrine of non-intervention in the conflict. They are also characterized by Buñuel’s theories and conception of documentary film-making, in which reflection and the psychological resources that motivate action or move an individual conscience predominate. This paper describes and analyses the film language and practice of that era, in particular the unique and emblematic film «España 1936» (1937).

Author-supplied keywords

  • Documentary film
  • European history
  • Film language
  • Film montage
  • Propaganda

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  • Francisco-Javier Ruiz-del-Olmo

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