The Other Thirty Years War (12-14 September)

This week we are going to explore the correspondences between film, literature, and the explosion of a three-year civil war (The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939), and how that short-and-long span of time resonates as other wars (both civil and international) in which Spain participated.  The reading by Pavlovic on cinema and the Spanish Civil War, alongside the poems by Federico García Lorca and Miguel de Unamuno, and the essay by Unamuno entitled “My Religion” will help us see how quarreling, division, censorship, control, and remembrance play critical roles in such development.

By Saturday at 5PM at the latest, please post comments, questions, or doubts you have regarding the topic of this endless war, and how you see it represented in the cinema and literature we are going to discuss.

With Basilio Martín Patino’s Canciones para después de una guerra/Song for After a War we will see these demons of war, nationalism, sociocultural splintering, bad memories, and surveillance that originated long before 1936, and lasted long thereafter, as Martín Patino’s 1971 film and the memory of the execution of García Lorca, as well as Unamuno’s philosophical resistance, demonstrate.

14 Replies to “The Other Thirty Years War (12-14 September)”

  1. A central theme of Canciones para después de una guerra is the construction and reconstruction of memory. The film’s combination of the emotional, nostalgic element of music with visuals of the commencement and duration of Franco’s regime are carefully constructed to provide the viewer with a means of reflection on postwar Spain. In the text, Pavlovic further explains that after the war, historical events were distorted and Franco’s new regime tried to rewrite history and tell people what to believe and remember as his rule continued. After watching the film, I thought about these ideas and began to think about how malleable our perceptions are; so much of what we believe and take to be truth is due to the images and messages that surround us, and so often we accept these ideas without question. Before long, these outside ideas and beliefs have blended with our own, so seamlessly sometimes, that we can never remember thinking anything different before. This idea inspired me to consider these themes prevalent in Canciones para después de una guerra alongside Miguel de Unamuno’s “My Religion.” Unamuno writes: “it’s an act of supreme mercy to wake up the one who is sleeping, or to move the one who is immobile, and it is an act of supreme religious piety to search for truth in all things and uncover frauds, foolishness and incompetence wherever you find them.” In the context of Unamuno’s work, he is making the point that to drive people to question and to think and to pursue knowledge with no promise of finding a concrete answer is a victory in itself. Often, he finds people “asleep” in whatever it is that they know, whether Catholic dogmatism, free-thinking, or scientific dogmatism, and it is when he finds people trapped by the constraints of their beliefs that he believes they need to be awakened. Though written before the Spanish Civil War even began, Unamuno’s ideas of waking one who is sleeping as an act of mercy, and one being enclosed by the limits of what he is told and has come to take as the only truth are at play in Canciones para después de una guerra, as Patino takes it upon himself to not just push people to explore their memories and constructions of the past, but allows them to as never before. In this way, Patino is staging his own kind of awakening: an awakening of the forgotten.

  2. Throughout this chapter, Pavlovic discusses the social divides and political instability of the 1930s in Spain. As society began to divide politically, the cinemas of Spain were split in half, producing films that favored the Republicans and films that supported the Nationalists. Through our screening and the literature we explored this week, we were exposed to perspectives from both sides of the Spanish Civil War. A civil war is often a war that defines a nation, and how it will govern itself and it’s people in the future. Another aspect of a war that defines a nation is the tune that is sung at the end of the war, by both the winners and losers. Through Basilio Martín Patino’s Canciones para después de una guerra, we experienced the tunes of the war, contrasted by the black and white pictures and film clips. The music seemed triumphant at times, and the film clips seemed joyful, with families hugging and kissing their children and loved ones. However, Patino, by implementing the mise en abyme technique, discusses how the noise of all the music is actually just silence to him, or the narrator; the silence lies underneath all the music, tunes, and celebration.

    Again, just as a civil war divides a nation, we see the contrast and division of nature and industrialization through Federico García Lorca’s “Ode to Salvador Dalí”. Lorca speaks of a mountain that has become barren, a landscape that has been drastically altered, much like the political and social landscape of Spain. Furthermore, Lorca brings up a violent connotation of this barren mountain by utilizing the verb “stripped”, causing reminiscent feelings of the aestheticization of violence that seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout Spain’s history. Lorca also states the line, “greys looking out from the last balustrades,” which can be interpreted as the people in Patino’s film having the black and white colors of the film fighting against each other so feverishly that it becomes a grey color that dyes the people grey. Thus, the people of Spain become grey by this battle of colors, leaving them caught in the middle of the horror of war and left “looking out from the last balustrades,” trying to make sense of the chaos of their civil war.

  3. The Underlying theme of the “other thirty year war” module this week is the rising divide in Spain between Nationalist and Republican parties as the nation was undergoing a civil war to determine who will fulfill the power vacuum in Spain. This is reminiscent of the thirty years war that preceded this war because it was a war in which two major factions (The Catholics and Protestants) fought for control of the land. Just like the original thirty years war, the winner of the war got to hold power and govern the lands it controlled for the foreseeable future. The films and literature of this week showed us the perspectives of both sides of the war and what the supporters and critiques of each party’s views were about the war and its results. Basilio Martin Patino’s film Canciones para despues de una Guerra brilliantly showcases the scenes of war contrasted by black and white film clips of triumphant families rejoicing throughout Spain. Yet, in pure contrast to these scenes, the narrator of the film says that beneath the surface, the music is just silence to him.
    This week’s poem, “Ode to Salvador Dali” utilizes imagery and allegories to depict the divide which the Spanish civil war has caused. The imagery of the “barren mountain” showcases a certain violence which that occurred to the landscape. This landscape, can be thought of as the old empire which Spain once was and the barren stripping of this mountain elicits the dramatic altering of that landscape which was caused by the brutal and violent civil war. The references to technological tools in contrast with nature showcase the ongoing battle within Spain to pursue modernity and join the rest of Europe or to close itself off to the rest of Europe and continue life as the exceptionalist country.

  4. This past week we discussed the “Other Thirty Years War” and the impact it has on Spain and surrounding nations. The divide led to having two groups: Republicans and Nationalists. Both these parties had opposing views which heavily affected cinema and literature. This war has similarities to the original Thirty Years War that began in 1618 between the Catholics and Protestants. The party/religious group that lost each war resulted in being either exiled or heavily suppressed. Anyone who spoke out was removed which created a fear in all the remaining lives. That is why so much of the cinema and literature has to do with death and blood, along with remembrance of a different time and of those who have passed.

    For instance, in Trece Rosas, the 13 women who were executed due to being Republicans lead to a lot of imagery involving roses which further led to female imagery involving not only roses, but also flowers and stars. This introduction of nature into imagery conflicts with the movement into the Industrial Revolution. It is similar to a reminder of the beauty of nature, even though the world is moving towards technology.

    For cinema, movies were used as propaganda to brainwash citizens to support Fascism. Also during this time, a lot of film depended on Germany and their resources which lead to Spanish films to have their influence. Along with, Spanish characters being portrayed in the most stereotypical way possible. Another reflection of the time and the lack of originality because of the nationalist influence on everyone.

    In addition, comparing the past wars Spain endured to Trump’s current administration was really interesting to me. Connecting exceptionalism to Trump’s actions of the travel ban and DACA made it easier to comprehend. Also seeing how easily history can repeat itself without us knowing it was an interesting and concerning observation.

    To sum it up, the wars, both the original Thirty Years War and the “Other Thirty Years War”, have heavily affected the cinema and literature of the 20th century and the way we interpret war through the arts.

  5. Through this unit, where the Spanish Civil War proved itself to be as equally devastating and prolonged as the Thirty Years War, the ways in which artists use their creative mediums to combat oppression became especially clear to me. In our discussions, we focused heavily on the structure of Patino’s Canciones para después de una guerra, and the director’s emphasis on resisting to silence placed fascism and Franco’s cultural impact on Spain into a new perspective. Spain had been suffering economically due to a mixture of financial burdens from WWI and the Civil War, and Franco’s regime alleviated some of that economic hardship, which I thought was well depicted through Patino’s scenes of cheering crowds. Yet, also depicted through Patino’s use of black and white and silenced scenes with diegetic and non-diegetic music, a film of oppression and muteness rested over the country. The triumph is superficial, and the true suffering of fascist dictatorship clenched the country in a tight grip. Lorca also lyrically and gorgeously portrayed the Spain which he loved and experienced as still fundamentally a home, a wonderful place, though tainted by the grey depression of an oppressive rulership. I liked how this unit illuminated the complexity of fascism and the layered understanding of oppression and how it affects people spiritually, mentally, and culturally.

  6. Religion, like film, was a tool that fascism used to caste the Spanish mentality. The fascist party relied heavily on Spanish tradition and looking back, as opposed to looking forward. This meant that the traditional woman roles that we see in the Damned Village would be more inline with the Nationalist view of how a society should behave. The Catholic Church had been preaching the ideals of modesty for years. This overlap made Catholicism a great unifying tool for Franco. At least one every week the entire country would attend mass, which provided the perfect opportunity for nationalist ideals to permeate the population and shape the country’s historical memory even further.
    Throughout Songs for after a War, religious iconography and fascism are intertwined, but not always in a positive way. The scene where an American tank crushes the graves of German soldiers was very powerful. Not only did it show the literal dominance of democracy, but is also showed a defamation of the cross. I guess you could expect Spanish people to sympathize towards Germany, especially since they were providing financial support as well as the technology, which allowed the film to be created in the first place. But Songs for after a War didn’t seem to be a film that supported fascism at every moment. I do not believe all of Spain would see this scene and be overcome with nationalistic pride. Because film was another medium with which nationalists controlled and reshaped the minds of its people, it seems odd that they would allow the screening of this film prior to Franco’s death. Perhaps the structure of the movie was to present these pieces of propaganda affectionately at the surface, but underneath it was really showing how ridiculous the propaganda was in order to show that the Spanish people were not falling for fascism.

  7. Martín Patino’s Songs for After a War provided a face for Fascism and its consequences in Spain following its Civil War. Patino showcased archival material of the post-war period, which served as a medium to document the progression of Franco’s Spain.
    It was both powerful and heart-wrenching to see the digression of Spain’s wellbeing in the portion of the film shown during the screening. Patino’s implementation of juxtaposition truly showed this progression, especially through the use of music. The music doesn’t just make the film more palatable, but it also helps tell the story.
    The first scene, “Spain’s Salvation,” showcased images of the Fascist regime with uplifting music until the sound of a bomb dominates the film, cutting off the previous song, but giving rise to more somber music. Afterwards, images of misery and tears fill the screen. The contrast of multimedia foreshadows the radical shift, economically and culturally, Spain endures. Transitions like this occur throughout the film.
    A juxtaposition tactic of Patino’s that was especially moved me was his expert showcase of the masses. During the “They shall not prevail scene,” citizens are fervently and joyously saluting during one of Franco’s rallies. Pavlovic mentions scenes like this, calling them “ritualized spectacles of power in the spirit of the fascist anesthetization of politics, such as parades…” (54). A following scene, “Poorly paid postwar Spain,” shows similar clips of the masses. These clips, however, show an apparent change in attitude toward the regime. In the parade shown, people are still saluting, albeit half-heartedly. The citizens look distressed and worn-out by Franco’s rule. Here, too, citizens are crying.
    Powerful connections intertwined within Patino’s documentary-style film send a poignant message about the Spanish peoples’ digression following the Spanish Civil War.

  8. Throughout this week, we learned a lot about the Spanish Civil War. We learned that it lasted three years from 1936-1939 and it was a fight between the Republicans and the Nationalists. We spoke about the split between the countries and how this was similar to the Thirty Years war because there was a split between another two religions: Catholics and Protestants. I found the film that we watched to be very different than what we discussed in class. I learned that we were actually watching a movie that supported Fascism. I thought it was a movie about Nationalism because of the type of music that was being played. The music seemed rather uplifting instead of what the movement of fasicm was. However, there was something that I thought was depicted well. I noticed that this was the time that Spain wasn’t doing well prior to Franco and there was a lot of happiness that came with just the relief of the economic issues. There seemed to be a lot of scenes with patriotic happiness and scenes of love. Overall which would depict a good time but it was really a false take on the movie.
    Furthermore, I liked our deep dive into Trece Rosas. There were several nature like words such as flowers and mountains but it was a juxtaposition for the Industrial Revolution. We talked about Benjamin and how he talked about the fact that “aura” is missing when there is mechanical reproduction. It was a poem about the contrast of nature and the Industrial Revolution.

  9. This week’s film, Canciones para despues de una guerra, exposes the societal divisions that existed in Spain beginning in the 1930’s. Visually, Patino uses clips and images to display the triumphs and the excitement of Franco’s regime. However, upon closer inspection, the graphics and the narration tell a different story—the suffering of the Spanish people as well as the problems of censorship during these years. The narration serves as a vehicle to educate its viewers on the reality behind these videos and images, and share the stories of those who were oppressed. The songs and the voice of the narrator are symbolic of the repressed masses during Franco’s regime, whose voices were silenced by the totalitarian state. The songs that accompany the visuals are also riddled with hidden meanings. The songs helped the people resist the dictatorial repression and remain in high spirits.
    Patino released the film after Franco’s death, indicating that his death has liberated and unleashed the voices of the Spanish people. Patino denounces Franco’s regime through his historical montage, which rewrites the narrative of those years. The documentary opens with short clips of the masses, seemingly celebrating the rise of fascism. Unlike in scenes that follow where there is a color tint, the beginning scenes depict the masses performing fascist salutes in grey-scale. The grey masses represent the effects of the repressive regime and their lack of individuality and freedom.

  10. What really interested me this past week was the categorization of film and literature as being Nationalistic or not during the Spanish Civil War, especially since everyone interprets content differently. The film Canciones para después de una guerra was interpreted as a non-Nationalist film because the clips and songs chosen criticize Franco’s dictatorship. As a result Martín Patino’s film was not released until after Franco’s death, but a spin off film was created by Eduardo Manzanares called Canciones de nuestra vida. This alternate film is definitely classified as being Nationalistic, which illustrates just how fluid content can be because they took a film with a Republican perspective and manipulated the content into their own propaganda. I thought that was interesting because the Nationalists were able to identify a good idea from their opponents and use it to their advantage.

    The writer Unamuno also demonstrates the complexity of interpreting information between the two sides through his essay “My Religion”. Although he never explicitly states which side of the war he supports, it is thought that Unamuno is a Nationalist. He is able to put doubt into the minds of his readers through “My Religion” because by not outright accepting Catholicism as his religion or wanting to be put in a box he is not showing overwhelming pride for Spain, which would make him seem less like a Nationalist. In my opinion film and literature were definitely used as propaganda during the Spanish Civil War on both sides, but the different interpretations of the content and the producers of the content make it a little more difficult to know which side they are promoting.

  11. I think Manuel Vásquez Montalbán’s characterization of Canciones despues de una muerte as a crónica sentimental de la España franquista perfectly describes the film as a whole body. While its structure is that of disparate clips in montage format, their joining evokes these images of historical memory and nostalgia even with the inclusion of cultural or religious elements that make this outlook is far more deep rooted than that of a political critique. It is a wider scope of all angles of the timeline of Spain through this historicity. Through the use of song, the viewer is brought into the period of time and events depicted. The viewer is lured into the aura being created, allowing a different form of understanding.
    In Unamunos poem El Cristo Yacente de Santa Clara( Iglesia de la cruz) en Palencia, the last lines evoke this same aura achieved by Patino, one which is understood to the reader regardless of their identity and existence within time. Unamuno finishes the poem withh: “this Spanish Christ without sex, lies far beyond that difference, that is the tragic knot of History, for this Christ is ground of my ground.” Unamuno makes this latter biblical allusion of blood all the more familiar by calling Christ a Spanish Christ but at the same time stripping him of sex or origin in previous parts of the poems. History itself is but a continuous knot, these forms of nostalgia breaking boundaries for a larger comprehension of these consequential events forming part of a larger scheme of human history.

  12. The Spanish Civil War was only 3 years but was just as deadly as the Thirty Years War, a religious conflict in Central Europe between the protestants and the catholics. The Spanish Civil War was between the republicans and the nationalists, and this conflict is expounded on in Patino’s film “Canciones para despues de una guerra”. He shows how through film and mostly music, Spain was utterly divided. Though most of the songs in this era were filled with nationalism, as shown through scenes of everyone uniformly holding their hands up as a sign of love for Spain, the film shows the hardships Spaniards had to face. The narration in between the film through voice overs demonstrated the actual struggles of everyday Spaniards.

  13. The film, Canciones para despues de una Guerra, emphasized the silence of Spain as a result of fascism and the Civil War. Patino with great ingenuity uses video clips, editorials, pictures, and songs to help depict what was happening in Spain. It’s almost as if he wants to fill the silence of the films with music to help remind the viewer that there’s noise behind this silence, a voice. I think that in a way the chaos of the scene is also silence. The individuals depicted have no voice and are given a voice through the songs chosen. This can represent the fascist era, as the people were silenced and not given a say. What most caught my attention during the film was the scene where Patino colored the pictures with hearts, circles and unusual figures to kind of give life or color to the pictures. The voice-overs were the true voice of the scenes and depicted Patino’s point of view. He wanted people to not forget what Spain went through. He created this nostalgic film, that portrays all point of views. It shows scenes in favor of Franco, as well as scenes in extreme poverty as a result of fascism.
    In an opposing view of silence was Unamuno’s piece “My Religion”. The title itself gives a feeling that we will be reading about a patriotic Catholic, proud of his religion but that is far from what we get. We get this voice telling us to create our own faith in what we believe. It’s sort of a modern way of thinking and in a way opposing this silence of staying on this Catholic road but rather break out of the shell and make your religion.

    1. The 1930s were a critical time in Spain. Franco gained traction and everyone against him was a communist or a “rojo” as they were often called. My first glimpse through representation at this time period was la lengua de las mariposas/ The language of the Butterflies, where it ended right as the civil war was about to begin. The progressive thinkers and “leftists” were being taken away from the village and everyone had to conform or they would be taken away as well. The documentary we watched is filled with propaganda and reminded me much of Chabrol’s The Eye of Vichy (1993), which was a war documentary told completely through archival footage propaganda of the Nazis to the city of Vichy in France. No voice-overs and no explanation, simply observation. Spain unfortunately was ruled by Franco longer than the Nazis ruled the French, that is until the 1970s, where Franco’s death was met with mixed feelings. I found it interesting that the week’s topic was titled “The Other Thirty Years War.” In the strict sense of the word “war,” it lasted only 3 years. However, the repercussions of what happened during those 3 years remained for decades.

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