El espectro de la figura gitana en el cine español
This dissertation examines the representation of the Gypsy figure in the Spanish cinema and particularly its role in the formation of Spanish national identity from the Second Republic to the post-Franco period. Titles of film under discussion include María de la O (Francisco Elías, 1936), Los Tarantos (Francisco Rovira-Beleta, 1963), Alma gitana (Chus Gutiérrez, 1996) and Vengo (Tony Gatlif, 2000).The Gypsy—an emblematic presence in the European romantic imagination as embodied in Prosper Merimée’s Carmen—came to epitomize Spanishness, both domestically and abroad, and it was subsequently appropriated by various contesting ideologies. I analyze this character as a spectral presence that, due to its ambivalent nature, haunts the Spanish national identity building process. I argue that this phantasmagoric figure highlights the tensions of a nation that wants to project itself as one fully immersed in modernity yet, simultaneously, maintaining a status of exceptionality and exoticism.Following a chronological logic, I observe the changes in the portrayal of the Gypsy character and the usage the cinematographic production makes of it. This body became a site where the various representational struggles such as racial purity versus heterogeneity during the first years of dictatorship, modernity versus tradition in the economic boom of the sixties or multiculturalism in the aftermath of Franco’s death were played out.The study of these films aims to shed light on the decisive role of the Gypsy figure in the process of national identity construction, not merely as a folkloric asset but as a constant presence defining Spanishness.
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