"Quinqui" Film in Spain
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137 pages

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An analysis of the mythical aura of Spanish low-budget films of the late 1970s and 1980s

The recent interest in quinqui film and the uprooted people of the Transition who were relegated to the background or were forgotten has recovered throughout the twenty-first century. The dissemination of the subgenre, paraphernalia and fetishism that surrounds these films, as well as the social groups they represented, have had their maximum exponent in exhibitions around the time that they were displayed in Madrid and Barcelona. During the summer of 2010, specifically from May 25 to September 6, the exhibition “Quinquis de los 80. Cine, prensa y calle” took place at the CCCB (Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona). Echoing this interest and practically simultaneously (from July 9 to August 29), the cultural center La Casa Encendida of Madrid held an exhibition and numerous screenings of Quinqui movies from the 70s and 80s. Both exhibitions enjoyed a great reception and affluent visits, as well as publicity and repercussion in different media, highlighting the large number of press releases published and the multiple reports that were broadcast during the television news shows of the main networks in primetime. Recently, films made with retro aesthetics in remembrance of that era have been released on the big screen, as is the case of revisions such as 7 vírgenes by Alberto Rodríguez (2005), Volando voy by Miguel Albadalejo (2006) or El idioma imposible by Rodrigo Rodero (2010). This last film is based on the homonymous novel by Francisco Casavella that is part of his particular vision of the years of the Transition through the trilogy “El día del Watussi”. In turn, renowned authors integrated into the literary star system of large circulation have published texts that portray this era and these young delinquents, slum dwellers and outcasts that are somewhere between the extreme hedonism of the heroine, the constant escape on board a Seat miriafiori or a Bultaco and survival in the peripheral neighborhoods of post-Franco Spanish cities. Authors such as Javier Cercas, with his novel Las leyes de la frontera (2012), and tributes to this type of cinema now bring this genre to a large audience that always turned its back on Quinqui film and its actors, with a nostalgic look and definitely romanticized of this time to legitimize it and finally integrate it, even within marginality, into what the Transition meant for Spanish society as a critical historical moment, however idealized, from which one cannot separate reality from the most disadvantaged that these films capture.

These films already anticipated much of the failure of the Transition, which failed to accomplish all of the achievements that it promised and that eventually ended up becoming, to a certain extent, just noise. What later is referred to as “the desencanto”, term established by the homonymous documentary of Chávarri in 1976 on the figure of the poet Leopoldo Panero; already anticipated by these films, which, although they do not articulate it theoretically or analyze it explicitly, if they implicitly expose their navajero, chorizo, macarra and yonqui characters, who live with the immediacy and the harshness of an era that did not offer them solutions, in fact one ignores them and sinks them, even more so if possible, in their particular hell in the democratic city. This ethical-social positioning towards the environment of the films analyzed here moves away completely from the illusions and reveries of high culture, as well as from the false illusion of modernity that took place in Spain at the time. Consciously or not, the films showed that disenchantment for the lack of solutions in society, not in formation, but already emerged and that had direct negative repercussions on the most disadvantaged classes. This representation of the outcasts reveals the vulnerability of the system that was being organized and that reproduced the exclusion of the lower classes. At the same time, it allowed the public to romanticize and place these characters within a halo of exoticism that attracted the big screen, since viewers could approach the wild side of life; knowing in advance the degree of verisimilitude that these works exuded since their protagonists, in numerous occasions, acted on their own existence, since many of them were drug dealers, criminals, thugs and people with multiple drug addictions who saw how their lives were spoiled as well as of most of the characters they represented on the big screen.

These films are representative of quinqui film, as a type of production that collects the lives of young delinquents in the late seventies and eighties and reflect the insecurity of the time and the degree of fame reached by the protagonists of the films. These films attempt to analyze the fractures of the new social order and offer a portrait of a collective belonging to a generation relegated to the background. The delinquency, marginality and exile of the mainstream suffered by the protagonists are the main elements that form the plot and thematic axis of these films. The Transition seems to ignore the rejection suffered by young people of the lower class and the approach of these to heroin and criminality, as spaces to develop their individualities. In this time of uncertainty, the most important creators of the Spanish film scene seem to opt for a realistic cinema, dealing with the most pressing problems of Spanish society. The works combine violence, delinquency and concern for youth, showing an attractive commercial appearance at the box office. The association between cinema, drugs and delinquency, which had never been excessively frequent, utilizes the concept of the spectacle, paradoxically, as evasion and abstraction of reality. Although these works suffer from a strong stigmatization in their beginnings, as far as criticism is concerned, they have gradually acquired the status of document and attention by social disciplines. Developing a retrospective look, this type of cinema has been constituted as another source of information when it comes to deploying social studies to analyze the conditions of youth during these years and, recently, this genre has enjoyed outbreaks of interest in criticism and the general public, both from the filmic and the social perspective.

Prologue: Rehearsing Circles, Hilario J. Rodríguez; Introduction: Quinqui Film as a Reflection of the Transition, Illusions and Shadows of the Great Change, Jorge González del Pozo and Juan Laborda Barceló; Chapter 1 Cinema on the Margin. Reflection on Quinqui Filmography by Eloy de la Iglesia, Javier Sánchez Cortina and Teresa Cortina de la Calle; Chapter 2 Heroes and Anti-heroes. . . From the Neighborhood: The History of Postmodern "Robinhoods”. Alberto Pascual Pérez; Chapter 3 The Repercussion in the National Press of Derpisa, deprisa (1981), Alejandro Gutiérrez; Chapter 4 Siete vírgenes (2005): Quinquis for the New Millennium, Fernando Marañón; Chapter 5 Margin, Marginality and Delinquency in the area of Quinqui: from Nomadism to the Suburbs in Volando voy (2006) by Miguel Albaladejo, Agustín Cuadrado Gutiérrez; Chapter 6 Todos me llaman gato (1980), Suburban Animals, Andrés Maté Lázaro; Chapter 7 Women on the Warpath. Perras callejeras (1985) by José Antonio de la Loma, Juan Laborda Barceló; Chapter 8 Quinquilleras, Exploitation and Forced Capitalism in Barcelona sur (1981) by Jordi Cadena: An Atypical Case of Delinquent Women in the Unstructured City of the 80s during the Spanish Transition, Jorge González del Pozo; Index.



Publié par
Date de parution 31 janvier 2020
Nombre de lectures 12
EAN13 9781785272318
Langue English

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Quinqui Film in Spain
Quinqui Film in Spain
Peripheries of Society and Myths on the Margins
Edited and Translated by
Jorge González del Pozo
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company
This edition first published in UK and USA 2020
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
© 2020 Jorge González del Pozo editorial matter and selection;
individual chapters © individual contributors
The moral right of the authors has been asserted.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019955625
ISBN-13: 978-1-78527-229-5 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78527-229-2 (Hbk)
This title is also available as an e-book.
Prologue: Rehearsing Circles
Hilario J. Rodríguez
Introduction: Quinqui Film as a Reflection of the Transition, Illusions and Shadows of the Great Change
Jorge González del Pozo and Juan Laborda Barceló
Chapter 1. Cinema on the Margin: Reflection on the Quinqui Filmography by Eloy de la Iglesia
Javier Sánchez Cortina and Teresa Cortina de la Calle
Chapter 2. Heroes and Antiheroes … from the Neighborhood: The History of Postmodern Robin Hoods
Alberto Pascual Pérez
Chapter 3. The Repercussion of Deprisa, Deprisa in the National Press
Alejandro Gutiérrez
Chapter 4. Siete Virgenes: Quinquis for the New Millennium
Fernando Marañón
Chapter 5. Margin, Marginality and Delinquiency in the Quinqui Space: From Nomadism to the Periphery of Volando voy by Miguel Albaladejo
Agustín Cuadrado Gutiérrez
Chapter 6. Todos me llaman Gato, Animals of the Periphery
Andrés Maté Lázaro
Chapter 7. Women on the Warpath: Perras callejeras , José Antonio de la Loma (1985)
Juan Laborda Barceló
Chapter 8. Quinquilleras, Exploitation and Forced Capitalism in Barcelona sur (1981) by Jordi Cadena: An Atypical Case of Delinquent Women in the Unstructured City of the Eighties during the Spanish Transition
Jorge González del Pozo
Hilario J. Rodríguez
When the great art critic Robert Hughes depicted the cultural landscape of Australia at the beginning of his career as a writer, back in the sixties, he insisted on the difficulties of his compatriots to find Picassos or Kandinskys in the newspaper archives of his country. Almost everything was known indirectly, through catalogs, slides and postcards. What was there — the paintings hanging in the museum halls—was too provincial and diminished, lacking the risk of the avant-garde. But over time Hughes had to accept this state of affairs, as Wim Wenders would say, and understand that, in effect, perhaps Australian art was no more than a footnote to the history of universal art, something that, even without possessing the necessary attributes to amplify the most important aesthetic discourses, inscribed in its center,could at least expand its peripheries.
I think of this very thing while trying to situate “quinqui film” within the context of Spanish cinema, already in itself quite diminished when compared to French, German, Russian or even British film. The cinematographer wanted it to appear to coincide with our biggest crisis as an empire, as a society and as a culture, and it seems that we would never have recovered from that unfortunate coincidence. Thus, our film history has always been of a local nature, with some exception fostered by artistic exile (Luis Buñuel’s case, to whom, by the way, we could give credit for a quinqui film masterpiece if instead of having done Los olvidados ( The Young and the Damned ) (1950) in Mexico, a similar story could have been filmed in Spain, around the generation of the disinherited who had left World War II and which Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrzej Wajda and René Clément, among others, gave an account of) or the experimental heterodoxy (with the outstanding case of José Val del Omar, a visionary without continuation within the framework of Spanish cinema if we exclude Víctor Erice). Here it is not that we did not realize the needs of the youth and we did not want to capture them in celluloid, it was that the Civil War put a stop to the projects of the educational missions done by the Free Teaching Institution during the Second Republic, the decade of the forties barely left space for dreams, in the fifties the migratory diaspora from the countryside to the city began, altering the identity of thousands of families, and the years of developmentalism during the sixties did the rest. Despite our promised Gran Familia of Spanish cinema, some films began to detect bodies that would later become quinqui film characters, mapping the large undeveloped spaces of the most important cities, where shantytowns were the common currency, in addition to illiteracy, and the lack of expectations and the cultivation of the most ancestral customs and practices of Spanish culture (with bulls and flamenco as backdrops).
In one of the video letters that Víctor Erice sent to Abbas Kiarostami in 2006 and that later formed part of the Correspondencias exhibition, students from a school in Arroyo de la Luz (Cáceres) are seen during the screening of ¿Dónde está la casa de mi amigo? ( Where Is My Friend’s House? ) (1983) and later, when the teacher asks them what they would have done had they been the protagonists: Would they have disobeyed their parents? Would they do homework for a friend, so he would not be punished by the teacher the next day? Thanks to those questions, the answers given by the young students and the images of the film, it is made clear how children can easily cross borders that an adult can no longer cross, because they are prevented by common sense, laws, fear, or prejudices. This ability to be above the dividing lines between what society considers good and bad is sometimes very advantageous, but other times not so much.
At this point, when the midday news shows young people who burn a homeless person alive, who sacrifice themselves in a cafeteria in some Israeli city or commit a massacre in their schools, the stories of children who beat or kill each other have almost ceased to surprise us, like the small neighborhood criminals who smile at the camera shortly before trying to rob a bank. Robert Thompson and John Venables, for instance, were barely 10 years old when they tortured and then killed James Bulger, a two-year-old boy who had been kidnapped in a shopping center near Liverpool. It is quite difficult to understand why such things happen, especially in developed countries, but perhaps that is why cinema finds inspiration in those kinds of events.
Of course, quinqui film finds an ancestral echo in the Spanish picaresque novel, from El Lazarillo de Tormes to El Buscón , in which hustlers travel with reckless abandon through borders (social, geographical, or legal); and also connected with and etymology and tradition of junk sellers, or quincalleros , who are the majority members of a separate ethnic group: that of the merchero . One of whom is Eleuterio Sánchez, alias El Lute, master of the elusive and known for the prison escape to which Imanol Arias gave life in an admirable diptych directed by Vicente Aranda. His adventures covered the front pages of the newspapers and occupied long segments on the television news. But what makes the life of a criminal interesting to a society or a film industry? Of course, the heroic aura of the characters outside the law has much to do with the questioning of the power, and Spain in the mid-seventies, with the death of Franco, finally got rid of the gag that had prevented this questioning for decades. Quinqui film, in fact, is bad only up to a point. It does not place bombs, it does not indiscriminately kill policemen and judges (but rather those who are put before them when they have to flee), it does not encourage nationalist or separatist ideas, it does not marry anyone (not with the church, or with the economy, or with politics), except for the girls in their neighborhood, and it does not let itself be manipulated by racial hatred but by social inertia. And what one looks for in this film is something different from the cultured and stylized approaches of Carlos Saura, to become a character of flesh and blood, with a nickname that gives him his own personality: El Torete , El Vaquilla or El Pirri .
Without looking for it, because they were not looking for anything in particular except a little money to show off or to buy heroin, the quinquis preferred to become a “pretty corpse” rather than being domesticated by a society of the “gross, dirty and bad” as they describe the films of Eloy de la Iglesia or José Antonio de la Loma. That explains why, like many other young people of the time, many died in an awkward manner (from an overdose or in a traffic accident, and not in a glamorous way, like a shoot-out with the police durin

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