|Cinergía Movie File:
Directed by Carlos Saura, 1990
This file was created by Deanna Kohrs
Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:
Section 1: Pre-screening
Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Section 3: Media analysis
Note: Given the transitory nature of internet resources we suggest conducting a search to help answer the pre-screening questions. Only a few links are included below.
Desperate Democracy Disregarded
This is a site explains how aid that Franco received from countries such
as Germany and Italy helped him win the war.
It also explains why the U.S., France and Britain remained neutral and
how this led to the republic’s demise. This includes important information
concerning why Italian and German troops are aiding Franco in the town in which
the variety show takes place in “Ay Carmela”.
This site also is a sub-link available from “Anarchism and the Spanish Civil War,” which
emphasizes anarchism and fascism in the Spanish Revolution. It provides links about events preceding the war, the
Revolution, and events after the Revolution at: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/Spaindx.html
España Siglo XX
(Spanish) This detailed site focuses on El
Franquisimo and the Transition. It
provides a superb history of both sides of the war and supplies links to
explanations of the communist party (PCE) and the socialist party (PSOE).
This site gives a list of brief highlights for each year of the war from
1936-1939. A brief introduction is
included, and information related to 1938 is provided (the year in which “Ay
Carmela” is situated). Essential information related to the division of Spain
is explained, such as the division of Republican and Nationalist cities.
Carteles Replicanos de la Guerra Civil:
Republican Posters from the Civil War
This site provides a virtual exposition of republican posters of the
Spanish Civil War and provides may symbols found in the movie “Ay, Carmela.”
Also the opening scene of the film is that of a war-town and building
walls full of such posters.
Operata, Zarzuela, Folklore
(Spanish) This site defines the Spanish
zarzuela and provides some background information on the Spanish comedy.
The zarzuela basically is show including dialogues, songs and dance
similar to that portrayed in the Variety show illustrated in the film.
summary of “Ay Carmela” and Movie Review
Provides a very brief plot summary of the war-drama,
“Ay, Carmela,” as well as a longer review of the movie. These sites also provide links about the director, actors
involved, and year it was filmed and produced.
2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Part I: Comprehension
Who are the main characters involved in the movie, and how would you
describe each? Give specific characteristics and supporting evidence for your
What is the theme of the film and what is the setting? How does Carlos Saura represent Spain and how does it
contribute to the tone of the film? Think
about the season portrayed, for instance.
How does the scene with the airplanes flying overhead in the midst of the
variety show for the Republican Army prefigure proceeding events in the film?
Paulino dedicates the recitation of a poem by Antonio Machado to General
Listo of the Ebro army. What
significance does the town Ebro have in the Civil War during this year (1938)
and what context does this provide in the movie?
Why are the main characters working in the front of the war? Are the main
characters particular to either the Republican or Nationalist/Loyalist side of
the war and why do you think this?
How is the economy of Spain portrayed in the “Ay,Carmela” and how do
the resources differ for the Republicans and Nationalists?
Why does the fact that Carmela, Gustavete and Paulino are traveling to
Valencia force them into capture? What
piece of evidence secures their arrest?
What symbolic importance does the flag used in both the variety show at
the beginning of the movie and near the end of the movie have? Whose flag is it
and what symbolic importance does it have in comparison to the three flags used
as the curtain at the Nationalist variety show?
Describe the scene with the flag in the Nationalist variety show.
How do Paulino and Carmela repeatedly offend the flag with their
comments, and what specific color is criticized and why?
Also, what does Gustavete represent in this scene and why is this import?
Why are the prisoners and members of the International Brigade so
offended at the scene described above? How
does this act serve as the climax of the film?
What turning point changes an essential aspect in the personality of
Gustavete, what exactly happens and what do you think this represents?
Think about Carmela’s character and her role as a rather independent
woman in this film. Why does
Carmela’s behavior become so reckless, therefore contributing to her death,
and how does this symbolize the outcome of the war?
Part II: Historical
3: Media analysis
After the members of the variety show are captured by the Nationalist Forces and taken to a prison in a Republican town taken over by Franco’s troops and allies, Carmela makes friends with a Polish international brigade soldier. This still highlights their attempt at communicating in two different languages about their commonalities. The close-up draws emphasis to the leading lady, Carmela, and the polish soldier (whose fate Carmela obsesses over later in the film). The key light in this frame emanates from a source slightly above the head of the Polish solder and to the left, and both their dark shadows and clothing contrast with the light colored map, which serves as their primary tool of communication as they discuss their origins. The two characters form a balanced composition in the still and the spectator is forced to intimately watch this exchange of information. It is the only point in the movie in which the International Brigade is represented with a voice, and therefore subtly alludes to the sacrifices they made for the Republican cause.
small friendship that is formed here foreshadows the climax of the movie when
Carmela begins yelling at Franco’s forces during the variety show to stop
hitting the brigade soldiers (which ironically, leads to her own demise as
well). Also, during the variety show, the soldiers begin singing the
song “Ay, Carmela,” which this still foreshadows after the young Polish man
learns Carmela’s name. This song
seems to unify all aspects of the movie since it is played in the opening scene,
the prison scene as depicted above, the Nationalist variety show as well as the
closing shots after the cemetery. Its lyrics depict both the difficulties and
pride of the Republican forces, which this soldier represents through his
devotion their cause.
|Paulino’s fear in prison||Paulino saluting the fascist forces|
These two stills portray the contrasting actions of Paulino and his uncertain principles when faced with death after being charged with supporting the Republican army through the “Varietes a lo fino” show. The still of Paulino in the Nationalist prison, with Gustavette resting in the background, reveals his fear upon contemplating their predicament. His furrowed brow and down-turned mouth are shown in deep focus in the extreme close-up with chiaroscuro lighting. The contemplative features of this character actor are brought into close perspective through the use of the camera angle level with his face. The key light radiates from the right of the frame and slightly overhead, emphasizing his eyes and casting a deep shadow on the rest of his face. Paulino seems to be staring straight ahead as if trying to accept their precarious situation, while in the back of the frame Gustavette and the Republican mayor are shown in soft focus and contrasting light.
In contrast to the still in the prison, the second extreme close-up of Paulino captures his face from a frontal perspective hailing Franco and the fascist allies of Mussolini and Hitler. Instead of deep chiaroscuro lighting, a bright frontal key light illuminates him and the bright colors of the Nationalist flag in the frame. The low angle shot draws attention to his blank, robotic face and his salute to the fascist army, also shown in deep focus. At this point in the scene, the audience is yelling, “Hail Franco! Hail Hitler!, and Hail Mussolini!,” while Paulino passively conforms. This still captures his betrayal to the Republican cause, for instead of entertaining and giving comic relief to Republican soldiers, he is performing for the Nationalist side in order to save his life, as well as Carmela’s and Gustavette’s. His ambiguous actions show his conflicting perspectives and ideals towards the Civil War, as both extreme close-ups portray. The lighting in each still greatly contrast one another, as well as the angle of the camera, colors and facial expressions. It clearly stresses his undetermined devotion between both sides of the war.
examining the sick patient
This poignant still from the Nationalist Variety Show, which favors Franco’s side of the Civil War, represents the climax when the Carmela, Paulino and Gustavette insult the Republicans and the International Brigade prisoners. Through the construction of the long shot and the use of the principal light emanating from the flashing projector (a moment that was foreshadowed earlier in the film), emphasis is placed on the humiliating portrayal of the Republican flag and democratic ideals. In the frame, their shadows are cast darkly upon the brick wall, contrasting with the bright light that magnifies the Republican flag wrapped disrespectfully around Carmela’s body as the doctor examines her “illness.” Gustavette, the mute supporting actor, is dressed as a Russian, symbolic of Stalin’s efforts to aid the Republicans, and therefore represents the fear that the fascists felt towards the communist “reds.” Paulino is captured in the still insolently commenting on the red blotches and “that awful purple color” that distinguishes the Republican flag from the Nationalist one. This scene is the highlighting moment in which Paulino abandons his personals convictions in order to ironically save Carmela, Gustavette and himself. In contrast to Paulino, the bright light emphasizes the indecision on Carmela’s face about participating in this scene, as her clutched hands and wide eyes illustrate.
This still precedes the symbolic death of Carmela. Since she metaphorically represents the Republicans by wearing the flag and bearing her “nakedness” to Dr. “Tocametodo,” her death symbolizes the defeat of the Republican army at the end of the Civil War. While her demise paints a bleak picture for the Republicans and the long dictatorship ahead, it also profoundly affects Gustavette and changes an aspect of his character during this climatic scene. After living a mute life without the freedom of expression, upon seeing Carmela fall to the stage, he finally finds his voice to protest and maintain the Republican ethics.
Part II: Media
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Created on 4/10/01
Last updated on 07/26/2007