Volume 15, Issue 2 / February 2011

A Little Bit of Spain

I was quite surprised to realize that in 14 years of publication Offscreen had never published anything on the great Spanish director Luis Buñuel. This unpardonable (though by no means conscious) omission is finally rectified in this issue, thanks to David Hanley’s essay on the treatment of Catholicism and religion in Buñuel’s Nazarin and El (as a note, the prolific Hanley is a name you’ll be hearing from a lot in the coming months, as he has a long list of essays pending publication). Spanish cinema in general has not been overly represented either, so the opportunity to feature two pieces on Spanish cinema felt appropriate. The second piece on a Spanish director is a review of a multilingual book on one of Spain’s most notorious filmmakers, Jesús Franco. The book in question is The Case of Jesús Franco, edited by Francesco Cesari, which also features a good friend of and frequent contributor to Offscreen, Roberto Curti. Franco, who is not held in high regard by mainstream Spanish media, would smile to learn that he is being featured alongside one of Spain’s most revered directors. And there is certainly a residue of Luis Buñuel in Franco’s esoteric and surreal cinematic style, especially his liberal attitude toward nudity, sex, and violence, and his own critical jabs against the Catholic Church and censorship in general (most notably in Franco’s The Sadist of Notre Dame, in which Franco himself plays a psychologically disturbed former priest who tortures and murders people he thinks are possessed by the devil). Profound social and moral issues, the kind often dealt with by Buñuel and Franco, are featured across the next two essays in this issue, “Wristcutters: A Love Story. An Anti-Sartrean Tale?” by Alessandra Pires and “Death, Despair, and Dreams: Tom Ford’s film interpretation of Christopher Isherwood’s book A Single Man.” In the former essay Pires compares Goran Dukic’s film about the afterlife of suicide victims to Jean-Paul Sartre’s literary/philosophical classic No Exit. In Garrett’s essay great literature is once again the springboard, in this case director Tom Ford’s “interpretation” of Christopher Isherwood’s book A Single Man, the themes of which are succinctly captured in the essay’s title: death, despair, and dreams. In the final piece Mark Penny adopts somewhat of an editorial tone in his discussion of the recent craze for not only bigger = better but ‘more deep’ = better: 3-D film. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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