Tag Archives: Spain

The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena), 1973 (Trailer)

Indagación lírica en las entrañas de un tiempo amordazado, atrapado entre la desolación y la derrota, y exploración a la vez de los paisajes interiores del mito (organizada sobre imágenes primordiales, desligadas de toda servidumbre explicativa o psicológica), la narración arranca de una mirada infantil capturada por unas imágenes primitivas. Y su itinerario nos propone, simultáneamente, la inmersión en el sueño para escapar del mundo real, el triunfo del imaginario sobre una realidad devastada, que no es otra sino la de aquella dolorosa posguerra española que sume en el silencio emocional y en el exilio interior a los habitantes de la colmena.

Era la primera vez, en la historia de nuestro cine, que un guerrillero, un maqui, aparecía contemplado desde la óptica de los perdedores y con una mirada solidaria. Faltaban un par de años aún para que la figura del combatiente antifranquista conquistara finalmente la palabra de la que aquí carece, todavía, ese personaje episódico – pero de tanta significación – que irrumpe en la vida de Ana como trasunto terrenal del fantasma que, en ese momento, se corporiza para ella y también para una cinematografía que, con la aparición de El espíritu de la colmena, empieza a ajustar cuentas no sólo con la memoria histórica secuestrada por el franquismo (corría la fecha de 1973 y el dictador no se había muerto aún), sino también con las pautas de una modernidad cinematográfica que llegaba a España con retraso. (…)

Urinarios públicos para emergencias nocturnas


Through our installation, public toilets, we have tried to attract attention -in a comical manner- about the problem we encounter when walking in centric streets and squares. Its purpose is to remind people who have this custom and also institutions so that a solution is found –perhaps by using urban furniture where people can urinate without bothering others, in case of extreme urgency…

For this reason, on the early morning 28th July we wandered along San Ildefonso Square and side streets: a very crowded area at night time when the atmosphere is great. We carried 80 male urine containers, the ones used in hospitals. Inside we poured yellow water and, what else but our lights.

Once we had located the ‘wet’ spots- following the smell trail will do- and we set up our emergency urine containers for anybody in need to use. We are aware of some of them being used…others…will be taken home…who knows for which purpose.


The director, the artist – and the unframed, unmounted work of art

Broken Embraces, which premieres in Britain this week, draws heavily on the dramatic landscapes of Lanzarote. Annie Bennett meets director Pedro Almodóvar and follows in his footsteps around the island

In Broken Embraces, the two main characters, Lena and Mateo, played by Penélope Cruz and Lluís Homar, stand on the same spot. He takes a photograph and Lena embraces him from behind, sheltering from the wind. I went to Lanzarote and stood there too.

Striated cliffs in shades of burgundy, russet and ochre frame a beach where wild waves crash on to the shore, with what looks like a slick of green paint splashed across the charcoal sand. It is the most extraordinary sight, and it is hardly surprising that Almodóvar didn’t notice the couple.

“It was like in Antonioni’s movie Blow Up, when David Hemmings takes the picture in the park and doesn’t see the body by the bushes until he develops the film in his darkroom,” said the director when I met him later in Madrid. “The camera lens sees more than the naked eye.”


César Manrique, the visionary artist, architect and environmentalist whose influence is seen all over the island, spent his childhood holidays in Famara and always said it was his favourite place. Born in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, in 1919, he lived in Madrid and New York before returning to the island in 1966. Passionate about his homeland, he campaigned for the introduction of regulations that saved Lanzarote from the ravages of rampant development. Highrise buildings are prohibited and there are no roadside advertising hoardings.

The Memory That Will Not Die – Exhuming the Spanish Civil War

History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.
—W.H. Auden,
“Spain, 1937”

Auden’s anthem to the doomed Spanish Republic, his somber warning, has rarely been more relevant.

Last September Spain’s homegrown “super-judge” Baltasar Garzón—best-known for his dramatic 1998 effort to arrest the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London— announced that he was investigating not only the whereabouts of the remains of the “disappeared” of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), but also the huge numbers of defeated Republicans executed by General Francisco Franco in the grim postwar years. His goal was to try to amass enough evidence to charge Franco’s regime posthumously with crimes against humanity. Could it be that, after so long, “help” and “pardon” were finally coming to the descendants of those who died defending the Spanish Republic?

According to the great Hispanist Hugh Thomas, the three-year Civil War claimed the lives of 365,000 Spaniards, a toll that includes both those loyal to the fascist rebel Franco and those who opposed him. Some historians put the figure higher. Both sides carried out brutal executions, the bodies of victims often ending up in unmarked mass graves.

When the Civil War ended in 1939, the victorious Franco regime executed an additional one hundred thousand-plus Republican prisoners, many of whose corpses were flung into yet more mass-burial pits. These unmarked mounds, visited stealthily by the families of the “defeated” during the dictatorship, are scattered the length and breadth of Spain.

Throughout the 1950s the Franco regime excavated and re-interred with full honors as many as possible of “their” mass graves—those containing the 60-70,000 soldiers and pro-Franco civilians murdered in the Republican zone during the war itself. The same efforts have never been extended to the Republican defeated. And here is the emotional crux of the debate, without which it is impossible to understand the passion and anger that the graves generate today.

There have been some gestures to honor the Republicans’ memory. In 2007 the socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero—himself the grandson of an executed Republican army captain—passed the Historical Memory Law. Facing a backlash from conservatives, the new law was a much-amended version of the sweeping measures some had hoped for, backing down on earlier promises to grant full posthumous pardons to those executed in the postwar period. The new bill merely promised support to the historical memory associations—the loose network of volunteer groups whose members include descendants of executed Republicans—without providing much in the way of state-led initiatives.

Thus, many welcomed Judge Garzón’s announcement last September. For the first time, the judiciary was taking the lead. The historical memory associations were the most fervent supporters of Garzón’s initiative.


Boris Godunov (La Fura dels Baus)

Una singular reflexión en torno a la tragedia del terrorismo y a la utilización del terror que realiza el sistema. De como, en ocasiones, respondemos al terror con el terror.


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En el 2002 un grupo terrorista checheno ocupó el teatro Dubrovka de Moscú y tomó 900 rehenes, hombres, mujeres y niños. Esta acción descabellada guardaba algunos paralelismos con el Boris Godunov de Pushkin, donde un impostor asalta el poder dispuesto a derrocar a un gobernante corrupto y todos saben que no va a ser mejor que áquel al que pretende suplantar. La respuesta al asalto por parte del gobierno ruso no hizo más que exacerbar lo espantoso de la situación. Los espectadores y sus captores acabaron convertidos en víctimas, inocentes unas, inmoladas las otras.

En este trabajo de La Fura dels Baus se intenta proponer al público una muestra infinitesimal, suavizada por la ficción, de lo que otro público tuvo que esperimentar en un teatro de Moscú. La ficción aparece desdoblada en varios planos: el del terror que impone un grupo terrorista, el del terror que oponen las autoridades como respuesta y el de una obra totalmente alegórica y oportuna, Boris Godunov, que se representa mientras se desarrollan el resto de acontecimientos.