Episode 11- Children, Gender and Memory in Two Recent Spanish-Language Films

Episode 11 with Jessica Davidson

This episode focuses on two recent Spanish-language films that comment on the Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship and the transition to democracy: Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo) by Guillermo del Toro and Bad Education (Mala Educación) by Pedro Almodóvar.  Interestingly, both films feature abused children, boarding schools for boys, strongly masculine but corrupted male characters and few female characters.  How do these filmmakers’ efforts to comment on Spain’s recent past lead them to so many similar themes?  What do these films reveal about not only the trauma of war and dictatorship but also Spain’s collective memories of the past?  Jessica Davidson, an associate professor at James Madison University, will consider these questions as she analyzes these two disturbing but also thought-provoking films.  While it is not necessary to do so, listeners will benefit from having watched the films in advance, and there are a few spoilers.

The Episode

The Guest

Jessica Davidson is an Associate Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at James Madison University in Virginia. She researches gender, fascism and cultural studies during the Franco Regime in Spain (1939-1975). Her article “Women, Fascism and Work in Francoist Spain: The Law for Political, Professional and Labour Rights” was published in Gender and History in August 2011. She is working on a study of gender, film and politics during the Franco Regime.

Suggested Reading and Viewing

  • Aguilar Fernández, Paloma.  Memoria y olvido de la guerra civil española.  Madrid: Alianza, 1996.
  • Bad Education (Mala Educación).  Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.  Canal+ España, 2004.  Film.
  • Davidson, Jessica.  “Women, Fascism and Work in Francoist Spain: The Law for Political, Professional and Labour Rights.” Gender and History 23, no. 2 (2011): 401-14.
  • Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo).  Directed by Guillermo del Toro.  Canal+ España, 2001.  Film.
  • Enders, Victoria and Pamela Radcliff, eds.  Constructing Spanish Womanhood: Female Identity in Modern Spain .  SUNY Press, 1999.
  • El espíritu de la colmina.  Directed by Victor Erice.  Elías Querejeta, 1973.  Film.
  • Giménez, Carlos.  Todo Paracuellos, Álbumes 1-6.  Debolsillo, 2016.
  • La lengua de las mariposas.  Directed by José Luis Cuerda.  Warner Sogefilms, 1999.  Film.
  • Pa negre.  Directed by Agustí Villaronga.  Massa d’Or, 2010.  Film.
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno).  Directed by Guillermo del Toro.  Estudios Picasso, 2006.  Film.
  • La prima angélica.  Directed by Carlos Saura.  Elías Querejeta, 1973.  Film.
  • Winchester, Ian.  “So[u]ldiers for Christ and Men for Spain: The Apostolado Castrense‘s Role in the Creation and Dissemination of Francoist Martial Masculinity.”  Revista Universitaria de Historia Militar 4, no. 8 (2015): 143-63.

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