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La Colmena (2021)

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La Colmena (2021)

According to Pierre Nora, "we speak so much of memory because there is so little of it left" ("Between Memory and History" 7). Some half-century after Franco's death, the question of memory in contemporary Spanish consciousness remains a fiercely contentious and divisive one, as evidenced by the Spanish Supreme Court's long-debated decision to exhume the bones of the dictator from his tomb within Spain's "Valley of the Fallen," which finally took place after a decades long conflict in October of 2019. The proliferation of Spanish cultural production dealing directly with memory of the nation's violent past is often most-closely associated with Spanish film of the 1990s and 2000s, during the country's "Memory Boom," known for some of Spain's most internationally-recognized fantasy and horror films such as Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006), J.A. Bayona's The Orphanage (2007) and Alejandro Amenábar's The Others (2001). Perhaps due to the much less explicit or high-budget depiction of left-over trauma from the Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship, film of the Spanish Transition, such as Carlos Saura's Cría cuervos (1976) and Víctor Erice's El espíritu de la colmena (1973), received fewer international accolades; yet these films serve undeniably as the foundation for the trope of haunting, so frequently used in the following decades, to depict the concept of the "livingdead" in a nation whose past trauma has been left, literally, unexcavated.

Most groundbreaking is Thomas's establishment of a boundary which exists between child and adult across films of the Transition in which the two function in opposition to one another. Drawing from a diverse series of films from Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's 1976 Quién puede matar a un niño? to El espíritu de la colmena, Thomas points to the significance of the child's portrayal as sinister, omniscient or as existing across some form of physical barrier from the adult. Her interest in "how child-centered films from this period depict overlapping temporalities and selves, casting the child as both self and other" and "the ways in which the child figure disrupts linear time and spectatorial identification" are particularly relevant as her analysis moves away from any singular, reductive explanation for the proliferation of child protagonists in Transition film, and later throughout the 1990s and... 781b155fdc


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