The war that won't die

The Spanish Civil War in cinema

By David Archibald

The war that won't die


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7808-8
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £70.00
  • Published Date: November 2012
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Film history, theory & criticism, HISTORY / Europe / Spain & Portugal, ART / Film & Video, Spanish Civil War, The arts / Film theory & criticism


The war that won't die charts the changing nature of cinematic depictions of the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, a significant number of artists, filmmakers and writers - from George Orwell and Pablo Picasso to Joris Ivens and Joan Miró - rallied to support the country's democratically-elected Republican government. The arts have played an important role in shaping popular understandings of the Spanish Civil War and this book examines the specific role cinema has played in this process. The book's focus is on fictional feature films produced within Spain and beyond its borders between the 1940s and the early years of the twenty-first century - including Hollywood blockbusters, East European films, the work of the avant garde in Paris and films produced under Franco's censorial dictatorship.

The book will appeal to scholars and students of Film, Media and Hispanic Studies, but also to historians and, indeed, anyone interested in why the Spanish Civil War remains such a contested political topic.


The research is rich in specifics, and makes abundantly clear why the conflict presents a particularly fruitful subject of analysis in relation to these issues.

In one of Archibald's aforementioned first-hand interviews, Guillermo Del Toro is quoted as saying that "every real event....needs an imaginary re-telling," and The War That Won't Die seems to concur, demonstrating the diverse ways that cinema can contribute meaningfully to debates about the past and its influence on the present.

The War That Won't Die is a valuable contribution to the growing bibliography devoted to cultural representations of the Spanish Civil War that analyses a broad range of films emerging from a variety of national contexts and historical eras.

The book's lively and straightforward engagement with ongoing debates about the capacity of the narrative cinema to represent history authentically and responsibly makes it an essential addition to the bibliography on cinematic representations of the Spanish Civil War and on historical film generally.


List of illustrations
Introduction: film, history and the Spanish Civil War
1. Hollywood and the Spanish Civil War: For Whom the Bell Tolls
2. The Spanish Civil War in East German Cinema: Fünf Patronenhülsen/Five Cartridges
3. Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War in cinema: ¡Viva La Muerte!/Long Live
Death and L' arbre de Guernica/The Tree of Guernica
4. Film under Franco: La caza/The Hunt and El jardín de
las delicias/The Garden of Delights
5. Re-cycling Basque history: patterns of the past in Vacas/Cows
6. No laughing matter? Comedy and the Spanish Civil War in cinema
7. Ghosts of the past: El espinazo del Diablo/The Devil's Backbone
8. A story from the Spanish revolution: Land and Freedom/Tierra y Libertad
9. The search for truth in Soldados de Salamina/Soldiers of Salamina


David Archibald is Lecturer in Theatre Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow

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