Spanish Cinema against Itself

Spanish Cinema against Itself

Cosmopolitanism, Experimentation, Militancy
Steven Marsh
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Format: Hardback 75 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04630-7
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Spanish Cinema against Itself maps the evolution of Spanish surrealist and politically committed cinematic traditions from their origins in the 1930s—with the work of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, experimentalist José Val de Omar, and militant documentary filmmaker Carlos Velo—through to the contemporary period. Framed by film theory this book traces the works of understudied and non-canonical Spanish filmmakers, producers, and film collectives to open up alternate, more cosmopolitan and philosophical spaces for film discussion. In an age of the post-national and the postcinematic, Steven Marsh's work challenges conventional historiographical discourse, the concept of "national cinema," and questions of form in cinematic practice.

Author Bio

Steven Marsh is Professor of Spanish Film and Cultural Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is author of Popular Spanish Film Under Franco: Comedy and the Weakening of the State and editor (with Parvati Nair) of Gender and Spanish Cinema.


"In this exhilarating counter-history of experimental filmmaking in Spain, Steven Marsh takes up the politics of form, the trouble with film history, and the theoretical potential of haunting, discontinuity and absence. Marsh's close attention to the rich archive of Spanish alternative cinemas is welcome in itself, but he also brings these films into wider debates on the national and transnational. Spanish Cinema Against Itself is an important intervention in Spanish film studies and, indeed, in the scholarship on world cinema."

 (Rosalind Galt, Professor of Film Studies, Kings College, University of London)

"Spanish Cinema Against Itself is an extraordinary philosophical exploration of the political potential and continued political commitment of cinema today. Working through the edges, frames, borders, and boundaries of Spanish cinema, Steven Marsh meticulously maps a genealogy of film, as illuminating as it is diverse, in order to think from the margins—that space of friction that operates against the fantasy of a conventional, unified national film canon. Tracing the underground roots of surrealism through multiple strands of its material and spectral legacies, this book seeks to open up new spaces for thinking, experiencing, and valuing film not only as visual media but also as a temporal form of disruption. At the heart of this inquiry into cinematic time is a critical theoretical undertaking crucial to imagining the very frontiers of cinema's future. Marsh's study should be praised for its originality, theoretical fortitude, and, perhaps most urgent, for its rejection of the types of closure that inevitably underwrite nationalist film discourse. From militancy to hauntology, from the vanguard to the cosmopolitan, Marsh sets out to redefine the place of Spanish cinema today, unhinging it from the confines of identity politics and, instead, linking it to its spectral past. The end result is nothing shy of brilliant: blasting open the continuum of an all-too-narrowly conceived official film archive in favor of roaming the unsettled terrain of precisely those works on the fray of such an archive, the ones that interrupt our ways of seeing and making sense of the world.   An essential read for anyone who wants to understand why film matters as a radical if untimely form of politics today as never before."

 (Patricia Keller, Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Cornell University)

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Différance. Otherness. Experiment.

1. Interrogations of the National Allegory: Trance film and Ethnography

2. Intermediality, Intoxication, and the Infrathin

3. The Discontinuous Legacies of Pere Portabella: Between Heritage and Inheritance

4. History, Hauntology, Representation: Spanish Cinema Against Itself

5. The Ex of Experimentation: Against Periodization

6. The Catacoustic and the Cosmopolitan: Rhythm and Timbre in the Films of Andrés Duque

7. Turns and Returns, Envois/Renvois: The Postal Effect in Recent Spanish Film

8. Retrospective Future Perfect: History, Black Holes, and Time Warps in the Films of Los Hijos and Luis López Carrasco

9. ¡No nos representan!: Performativity as Militant Film, the 15-M Archive

Afterword: Unruly Archives. La décima carta and Buenas noches, España