Why is Spanish cinema so violent? How did real-life Spanish delinquents become famous film stars? What can cinematic depictions of rule-breaking tell us about social control and power?
While Spanish audiences have long been fascinated with criminality, the nature of the criminal act depicted onscreen has undergone a series of dramatic transformations from the early Franco period to the present day. This course explores how the varied depictions of criminality in Spanish cinema have reflected broader changes in the cultural understanding of transgression, civil disorder and social control in Spain. It examines ‘deviance’ in its various guises and meanings, from violent crime, petty theft and delinquency, to police torture and domestic abuse, as a means of tracing a recent history of the Spanish penal system and its evolution of criminal justice. In doing so, the course will study a number of important crime thrillers, police procedural films and delinquent films, as well as controversial films whose making itself has been considered deviant by the authorities.
The course is taught through a combination of weekly lectures and seminars, where students are expected to have watched the film in advance. The course also considers the interplay between Spanish crime and society through a number of criminological and sociological sources which will be discussed in class.