Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.8 MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS, Arts, Art history, Performing arts studies, Studies on Film

Publication Details

Is there such a thing as European Cinema?



Just at a time when Spanish cinema is getting closer to Hollywood than ever – this year’s Goya winners Celda 211 and Agora illustrate how a Hollywood blockbuster can be made in Europe – revisiting the cinema of J.A. Bardem would certainly remind us that the practise of imitating Hollywood –whether in terms of genre and narrative conventions, the use of specific technical devices and tricks, or even the importance given to the star-system – is not only unique to post-modern European narratives.

In the 1950s, Bardem’ s early films were directly influenced by narratives and themes found in previous European (Neo-) realist films, and impregnated with a clear flare for Hollywood’s spectacular generic conventions and technicalities. The ‘organised’ hotchpotch derived from that practise resulted in a cinema of difficult classification.

It is perhaps that spectacularisation of the storytelling via the different elements of the mise-en-scéne what best defines Hollywood cinema, in contrast with the sincerity, proximity, and ‘anti-artificiality’ sought in European storytelling and filmmaking. However, when these two modes blend, we are faced with an inter-cultural hybrid cinema which hardly belongs to neither of the cinemas that created it. Esa Pareja Feliz/That Happy couple (1951), Muerte de un ciclista/Death of a cyclist (1955), Calle Mayor/Main Street (1956), La venganza/Revenge (1957) are perfect examples of a cinema that harmonised elements inherent to opposed national cinemas such as Spanish, Italian, French and American.

This paper will examine the process of hybridisation and the elements that take part in it in order to make a new Spanish cinema that seemed everything but Spanish: a mode of representing reality with a finger in Hollywood and another in European cinematographic experiences. This process of hybridisation leads us to concepts of pastiche, adaptation, alien influences, cross-cultural dialogues, appropriation of style, and identity.