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Top of the World: 10 Spanish Speaking Movies

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This past semester at university I had a Contemporary Spanish Cinema course. It was optional, but I took it for my own curiosity as, I have to admit, I don’t think I had seen any Spanish movies before. Here I mean Spanish from Spain. Some names were familiar, such as Almod贸var, but I still didn’t really know what to expect and if I would like it or not. Well, I did. The teacher was interesting and I loved almost all the movies we watched! The course is over now, but in good memory of it I’ve decided to do a…. top list! However, here I won’t only include Spanish movies from Spain, but Spanish speaking movies in general. So, some South American movies will be included on this list (actually, I think there’s only two) and movies produced by Spain, but not Spanish speaking won’t be included (here I can think of The Others with Nicole Kidman. We watched it in class, it’s very good, but not a word of Spanish is spoken in it).

Before I start the top, here are some new, and not so new warnings:

As I’ve just discovered the world of Spanish movies, I haven’t seen them all! So it’s no use saying “you should have put this film on your list.” If I haven’t seen it, I just haven’t, so I can’t include it. Among all the Spanish films I saw, I think that maybe 4 or 5 are not included in the list, so it’s not that much as you can see. And those are not like the “obvious” Spanish films that everybody should see. But of course, if you are curious to know if I have seen some particular film that might be among the 5 that are not on the list, you surely can ask! 馃檪

I don’t say that any of these films are better than another one. This is a very subjective list. These are my personal favourites. Please respect my choices.

My course was about聽contemporary Spanish Cinema, meaning that the list doesn’t include Spanish movies from the 40s or the 50s for example. The oldest one is a 1980’s movie. However, if you know some good “old” Spanish films I should watch, please don’t hesitate to recommend them!

I think it would be important to mention that I did see all these films in class, but most of my viewings were related to the course, except for one.

All the Almod贸var’s films I saw are included in this list.

Ok, here we go!

10.聽La Mala Educaci贸n (Bad Education) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2004

I chose this film for my final essay of Spanish Contemporary Cinema and I got an…. A! 馃榾 Look what the teacher said about my text: “This was an excellent paper, with an outstanding engagement with both historical context and literature on the subject. Great work! Only as a minor comment, the paper, is 1000 words larger than the word count asked for, be sure to double check these things (I appreciate the effort but usually its better to try and not overdo too much). At any rate, this paper shows an excellent engagement with course topics and it was very insightful and complete assignment.” 聽Ok, I write too much, but hey! I got an A you know! 馃槈

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9.聽Flores de otro mundo (Flowers From Another World) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 1999

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8.Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al bored de un ataque de nervios)– Pedro Almod贸var, 1988

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7.La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2011

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6.XXY – Luc铆a Puenzo, 2007

A very interesting and touching Argentinian movie about the complex subject of intersexuality. I actually saw this one in a different class.

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5.Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) – Pedro Almod贸var, 1999

Definitely my favourite Almod贸var’s film so far, and the first I’ve seen.

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4.El laberinto del fauno (Pan鈥檚 Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro, 2006

Ok, I think everybody knows this one. I loved it, but I actually thought she would spend more time in the labyrinth!

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3.聽Pa Negre (Black Bread) – August铆 Villaronga, 2010

Another great聽film about Spanish Civil War, still with the mean guy from Pan’s Labyrinth. Here I cheat a little as the film is not in Spanish, but in Catalan.

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2.Y Tu Mama Tambi茅n (And your Mother Too) – Alfonso Cuar贸n, 2001

Another pretty well-known film. I watched it because of Gael Garc铆a Bernal and I was not disappointed. Amazingly shot. A Mexican movie. The only one I watched that was not related to the course (or any other course if I think of XXY)

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1.聽Tambi茅n la lluvia (Even the Rain) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 2010

The film that made me discover Gael Garc铆a Bernal. I didn’t know what to expect from this film, but it’s just amazing. The story is breathtaking and the actors are excellent. Not to be missed.

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Here it is. I know there’s much more I have to see such as Almodovar’s Talk to Her or聽Diarios de motocicleta聽with Bernal, but these films gave me a good preview聽of how great Spanish cinema is. If you are like me five months ago and haven’t seen any Spanish films, I hope this list will be useful to you!

It was good to be back! See you soon! 馃檪

And Happy New Year too!

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Before Lassie there was Rover!

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Even if they are not human actors, animals sometimes have an important place to play in movies. They can represent friendship, danger or simple company. With her blogathon The Animal in Films Blogathon, Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood allows us to celebrate our furry friends and what they brought to the art of films.

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For the occasion, I decided to focus on the British silent short Rescued by Rover directed by Lewin Fitzhamon in 1905.

The story is simple, a baby (Barbara Hepworth) is kidnapped by an alcoholic bigger聽(Mrs Sebastian Smith) during a ballad in a park with her nurse (May Clark). The family dog, Rover (Blair) will save her.

Of course, Rescued by Rover was made long before Lassie, but just like the famous dog, Rover is a Colley. The film is often considered to be the first fiction film made in the UK and the first fiction film to use a dog in its story. On its release, “Rover” became a popular dog name. The film was written by Margaret Hepworth and it’s her own dog, Blair, who was used for the role of Rover. Blair itself is considered to be the first canine film star. Blair was also seen in the 1903’s version of Alice in Wonderland, Rover Takes a Call (1905) and The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper (1908).

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The film is, of course, a family affair, not only because it stars Margaret Hepworth’s dog, but also because it stars the writer herself in the role of the mother, her husband Cecil Hepworth in the role of the father and their daughter, Barbara, in the role of the baby. Were the actors paid? Well, an article from the BFI informs us that Rescued by Rover was made on a聽seven pounds thirteen shillings and sixpence budget. So, probably not. 馃槈

Rover is, of course, a very brilliant dog. It聽has a perfect flair and it doesn’t take聽it聽long to find the baby. Rover can open doors (which turns out to be very useful in this situation), swim (well, like most dogs) and remembers its way.

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When we watch this film, we become quite fond of Rover (or Blair) as it seems to be the perfect dog. It doesn’t even bite the kidnapper! What a gentle dog. What an absolutely adorable pet! Of course, another thing I love about this film is the baby. Seriously, even if we don’t see her very often in the film, little Barbara Hepworth really is one of the cutest babies I’ve seen on screen. With her little white dress and her round cheeks, she is nothing but absolutely sweet. We are glad Rover is here to save her! The movies stars with a medium shot of her and Rover.

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Narratively, Rescued by Rover remains a very simple film. Where it becomes interesting, it’s on the technical aspects, particularly the聽editing. The film contains a total of 22 shots, which was rare at the time, especially for a five minutes feature. Movies were more often made in a more “theatrical” approach where the camera was static, filming the subject in a long shot or medium long shot. But here, the characters move out from the space where they initially were, and the story has a certain physical evolution. Also, we don’t need much information to understand what’s happening. When we see Rover running in the street, we immediately know it’s on its way to save the baby.

So, Rescued by Rover is a simple, but important film. The most interesting fact聽on聽how it influenced history is that, the film inspired聽D.W Griffith, who also used parallel cutting in his films. And that’s still often used today. Kidnapping also was the main subject of his first film,聽The Adventures of Dollie聽(1908)

If you haven’t seen Rescued by Rover yet, I highly recommend you to do so. It’s very short and worthy. You can watch it here:

Many thanks to Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for hosting this very original blogathon!

Of course, I invite you to read the other entries as well:

The Animals in Films Blogathon

See you!

Sources:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauv茅e_par_Rover

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/514859/

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Rover (Blair) and Barbara Hepworth in The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper