Cinema and the Mediation of Everyday Life in 1940s and 1950s Spain

Jo Labanyi


This essay discusses the AHRB-funded collaborative project ‘An Oral History of Cinema-going in 1940s and 1950s Spain’ undertaken by the author with co-researchers in Spain and the US. It argues a case for studying popular cinema – neglected by film historians in Spain – and popular audiences in particular, stressing the need to be attentive to the agency of spectators and to the ways in which cinema-going intersects with everyday life. The essay is particularly interested in the positive meanings of escapism for Spanish spectators of Hollywood cinema in the first two decades after the Spanish Civil War, at a time of severe political repression and economic hardship under the Franco Dictatorship; and in how, at the same time, watching Hollywood movies introduced consumerist values in anticipation of the regime’s later overt adoption of capitalist modernization. The role of women spectators becomes particularly important here, given that, as home-makers, they felt the effects of economic hardship particularly keenly, while at the same time they were the principal targets of the consumerist values disseminated by Hollywood.

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New Readings — ISSN: 13597485


Published by: Cardiff School of Modern Languages