Cinergía Movie File:

Demons in the Garden (Demonios en el jardín)

Directed by

Manuel Gutierrez Aragon, 1982


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Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:

Section 1: Pre-screening

Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism

    Section 3: Media analysis

Section 1: Pre-screening  

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.

Historical information:

“La Recuperación de la Posguerra y la Transición Democrática” The information provided in this page comes from Professor José Félix Barrio and is parte of the interactive service "Sí, España" (3.0) that promotes the free interchange of information about current issues in Spain and her historical, linguistic, and cultural development.  The historical information helps the viewer of Demonios en el Jardín (Demons in the Garden) by giving a knowledge base of the events of the time period of the movie.  Political influence is discussed as web as various forms of art, including film.
“Investigaciones sobre la Historia Cultural Contemporánea de España”.  A personal research project by Jeroen Oskam has the perspective of a foreigner looking for historical facts contained in official documents and archived periodicals.  The themes presented that are pertinent to the understanding of the movie include the following: censorship, falangism, and the Church after the Spanish Civil War.  (Spanish page also available.)

“La Guerra Civil Española”.  This page was created by Manuel Sanromà as a homage to all of those who gave their lives and their youth for the freedom of Spain and its people, particularly the members of the International Brigades.  As of July of 2001, the page is a collection of work of the following people: Santi Barjau, Jesus Victor Benusán, Mike Blacksmith y Fernando Hernández (Grupo de Carteles).  It includes links to information about posters, texts, current press items, a chronology of the war, the protagonists of the war, the armies, the important battles, etc.  This page can be helpful to the audience of Demonios en el jardín as yet another source about the Spanish Civil War, maybe a little simpler than others.

“Background On The Spanish Revolution And Civil War” This English site includes links to information about before, during and after the Spanish Civil War.  Created in 1998 by Eugene W. Plawiuk, the page contains all types of sources including articles, websites and academic projects.  There are many possible answers to be found about the War on this page or through its links – the causes and effects and life under Franco.

“La dictadura franquista”.  This is a timeline of the Franco dictatorship from 1939 until Franco’s death in 1975, including some developments after his death as well.  This site was also created by Professor José Félix Barrio for the Sí Spain site.  It is very straightforward in its content and presentation.   This can help the viewer understand the facts without prejudices.  Evidently the initial dates are the most important to the comprehension of the film, but the later dates give the viewer of what beholds “the characters” after their situation depicted in the movie.

Political party information:

“Historia del Partido Comunista de España”.  This is basically an online book.  Its chapters are linked in order including information about the Communist Party in Spain, its birth, development during the Second Republic, involvement in the War and role under the Franco dictatorship.  This site was created by the Proyecto filosofía en Español as a reliable source in terms of content.  Due to the fact that Angela is referred to as a “Red” in the movie, it is imperative to understand the connotation that term held.

“Historia del PSOE” This is the official site of the Spanish Socialist Party.  It gives the history of the party from its origins until present day.   Given that it is a creation of the party itself, it serves as a dependable source of information.  In combination with the sites of the other political parties one begins to understand the mentality of the époque prevalent in the movie.

“Los falangistas y el franquismo”.  This site about the Spanish Falange contains links to information about the beliefs and the history of this political party.  It is the official site of the party, designed to inform the public.  It also includes links to other internet sites about the party.  It is a bit more complicated than some other sites, but the information is beneficial in the understanding of Juan’s character in the movie.  (Don’t get lost in the graphics and the necessity to “click here” several times to get to the information.)

Other information:

“Historia de la mujer en España”.  This site, created by the I.E.S. Parque de Lisboa, is a project dedicated to the history of  women in Spain. It includes details about the woman’s role in society before, during and after the Spanish Civil War with pictures of the time period.  Each section covers a different époque, following her development as a figure in Spanish society, which helps to understand the women of various generations presented in Demonios en el Jardín.  

Part II. Pre-screening questions

1.       What was happening in the rest of Europe during the 1940’s?  Who were the primary players in these events?

2.       Why and in what ways was Spain excluded from the rest of the world?  How did this affect Spain?

3.       In what year did the Spanish Civil War begin and when did it end?  Who formed the two sides in the war and who was the victor?

4.       What were some of the different political parties in Spain during the Spanish Civil War?  What were they fighting for?

5.       Who was the dictator of Spain after the war and how long did his reign last?

6.       In what ways did the dictator deal with the people or political parties that opposed him? What were some of the punishments?  Why did the regime have such strict control of censorship?

7.       Due to strict censorship the Spanish public had limited access to art.  What kinds of films was the public allowed to view?

8.       Did the dictatorship achieve unity among the people after the war?  Why were so many families divided during the war and were they able to resolve their differences after the war ended?

9.       In what ways were the children affected by the dictatorship?  What was family life like under the regime?

10.   What was the role of the woman before, during, and after the Spanish Civil War?

11.   How is the plot “subversive” to the regime in Demonios en el jardín?

Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism  

Part I. Comprehension questions

1.       Who are the main actors in the movie and how can you describe each one? Give specific answers and support your answers with examples.

2.       What is the theme of the movie?  How does it correspond with life under Franco during this time period?

3.       How does Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón represent Spain and how does this contribute to the tone of the movie?

4.       What is your reaction to the movie?  What emotions does it provoke?

5.       What points of view were presented throughout the movie:  masculine, feminine?

6.       How does Gutiérrez Aragón represent the family during the period after the civil war?

7.       What does the last frozen image of the movie represent?  Analyze the open ended ending of the movie.

8.       What is the significance of the title Demonios en el jardín?

9.       In what year was the film produced and how did it avoid the censorship?

10.   What or who does Juanito represent in the movie and why did everyone spoil him?  Think of the scene where he was in bed and the men and the grandmother were feeding him.

11.   Why is Franco never scene live during the film  (He was only shown once in a clip in the movie theater)

12.   Why didn’t Juan and Oscar get along and why did Oscar protect Ana by saying that he who shot Juan?

13.   What was the role of the grandmother in the film?  Why did she baby Juanito so much but then burn him with a cigarette because she thought he was pretending to be asleep?

14.   After seeing his father working as a waiter for Franco Juanito no longer wants to visit his father nor Franco.  What is the importance of this scene and why does Juan run away?

15.   Angela finds Juanito in the woods after he learns that his father is a waiter.  He asks her what he will be when he grows up if she is a Red (communist) and his father is a Franquista.  Why does she tell him he can decide for himself when he is older?

16.   What is the message that Gutiérrez Aragón wants to give the spectator through the last scene?

Part II.  Historical Accuracy

The following quotes come from:  Defying Male Civilization:  Women In The Spanish Civil War by Mary Nash

·         "Men to the front, women to the homefront" (Nash 54).

·         "The severe constraints placed on the female population in cultural, economic, and social arenas were due in large part to the predominant ideology of domesticity   which reinforced male supremacy…" (Nash 7).

·         “a series of female organizations that reflected the political panorama of republican Spain at that time” (Nash 63).

1.       In what ways has the film helped you to better understand what life was like in Spain after the Spanish Civil War?

2.       Do the protagonists represent the division of the Republicans and Nationalists?

3.       Mary Nash talks of women living in a male dominated world in the second excerpt above.  How is Angela treated throughout the movie by the male figures?  Is she able to break out of the cycle of oppressed women?

4.       After reading the excerpts taken from “Defying Male Civilization:  Women In The Civil War” by Mary Nash, why do you think Angela chose to be part of the communist party during the war?

The following quotes come from:  Spain at War by George Esenwein and Adrian Shubert.

5.       How did Juan’s participation in the Spanish Civil War allow him to work for Franco?  In which political party was he involved during the war?  Refer to excerpt number four by Esenwein.

6.       What are some of the symbols that are used in “Los demonios en el jardín” to show the effects of Franco’s regime on the Spanish people?

7.       How do the use of symbolism and other subtle representations for the effects of Franco’s dictatorship in “Los demonios en el jardín” help to better understand what life was like under the regime? 

8.       What group or groups of individuals was the film trying to reach?

Section 3: Media analysis  

Destruction of freedom:  The use of dim natural lighting in this still signifies the lingering shadows of the Spanish Civil War.  Angela is carrying white bottles representing the purity of freedom but intends to drop and break them to spite her aggressors and the grandmother.  Everyone except Angela has his back to the spectator in this long shot, evoking Angela’s emotional facial expression through the use of a fill light directed at her position in the center of the still.  The viewer cannot see the faces of the Nationalist representatives, all dressed in black, indicating their general malevolence.  Angela, the Communist representative, however, is wearing a light blue colored skirt, similar to that of the coveralls of the workers’ movement.  This initial scene of the movie sets the tone of political conflict carried out in the remainder of the film.


Authoritative grandmother:  The artificial lighting from the upper left illuminates the grandmother’s face demonstrating the focus on her superior social status.  Another light, this time natural, extends from the window to cast a shadow on Angela’s face, who is seated at the table working.  The combination of light and physical position of Angela’s character in this still exemplify her lower social status.  In this medium shot, Angela looks up attentively at the grandmother, listening to her while the grandmother pays Angela no attention and instead concentrates on the photo of her son.  The distance created in this still between the two women is indicative of their conflictive personal relationship due to the grandmother’s threat to take away Angela’s son, her grandson.

Pleading Grandmother: Contrasting with the previous still, in this medium shot the natural lighting that enters from the window to the right of the scene presents Angela and Ana facing the pleading grandmother.  The two younger women from the new generation look down at the grandmother on her knees who represents the antiquated generations of the past. Ana is also begging Angela in this scene, but their more intimate relationship is clearly demonstrated in their closeness, contrasted with the distance created between them and the grandmother who kneels with her back to the viewer.  At the same time Angela allows the familiarity with Ana and refuses the grandmother’s supplications with a swift upward movement of her hand and an order to “For Heaven’s sake, get up!” In this still the power role is reversed.

Spoiled boy:   The key light for the scene is frontal in order to reinforce the light and dark contrast between Juanito and the other characters.  This medium shot in a closed frame is dedicated to the continuance of the division of generations already established through other individuals in the film.  Juanito is very pale in comparison to the others in the still and his lightly colored pajamas accentuate his supposed innocence and necessity of attention from the adults who constantly surround him and worry about his well-being.  The image is centered on the act of feeding Juanito and his obvious refusal to cooperate with the demands of the older generation.


Under Franco’s Control:  In this long shot the natural light emphasizes the white tents where Franco is staying, and the lack of attention paid to nature by the other characters within the frame. Juan’s face is visible and he is dressed in white symbolizing his close ties to Franco’s power.  A soldier forces Juanito towards his father and to the unseen Franco.  Juanito does not want to descend to the same level of his father and the others.  At this moment Juanito begins to see his father for what he really is and rejects him.

The observation in the dark: In this medium shot Juan and Oscar are facing each other and Juanito observes them from the shadows.  The principal light is artificial and comes from the right side.  The direction of the lighting causes Oscar’s face to be covered in darkness while partially illuminating Juan and leaving Juanito in complete obscurity with only his sillouette being visible.  Juanito is in the middle behind Oscar and Juan with the pistol just in front of him.  The focus is on the gun, which shows Juan provoking Oscar in a scene that is intensified by the uncertainty of the action that Oscar will take.  Juanito is a passive observer in the frame taking in all of what is happening.

Appearances:  In this long shot, with the grandmother in the middle, the yellowish artificial light emphasizes the lack of innocence of the entire family.  The closed frame and the way the members of the family are positioned represent the family as being a kind of prison.  However, a white light at the right of the frame illuminates Angela, who is the only one with light colored clothing, which signifies her integrity.  The first row only consists of women and Juantito, the active characters, while Juan is behind, wounded, grimacing from pain, and distanced from Oscar who is smiling with satisfaction.     Oscar has both of his hands placed on the shoulders of his mother indicating his fidelity; Ana and Angela have their hands placed in their lap alluding to their apparent innocence; the grandmother has her hand on Juanito’s shoulder transmitting her power; and Juan has his hand on Angela’s shoulder as a last effort to request her love.  There are several unknown family members in the picture, illustrating the upkeep of appearances.

Part II. Media literacy questions


1.       What types of political interests are reflected in Demonios en el jardín  and how are these perspectives presented?

2.       Who produced the movie Demonios en el jardín?  What is the intended audience?  Why was the film made?

3.       What part of society does the movie criticize?  Why?

4.       Compare the year in which this film was produced with the date of Franco’s death.  How does this relate to the purpose of the film and the ending of censorship under Franco’s regime?

5.       Was Demonios en el jardín shown all of Spain?  How do you think that the film was received by the target audience?  Did it receive any awards?

6.       How does the use of different camera angles help to create certain emotions or feelings?  When are close-ups used and in which types of takes do they appear?

7.       Consider the lighting techniques used in the film.  How does the contrast between light and dark contribute to the vast majority of the scenes in which Angela and Juanito appear with the remaining characters?

8.       What is the significance of the obscurity in scenes where the light is presumed to be natural?  How does the use of lighting techniques help to understand the different characters or points of view presented?

9.       Do you feel that all of the opposing sides involved in the Spanish Civil War were equally represented in Demonios en el jardín?  Or do you think that any point of view was avoided or misrepresented?

10.   What opinions might the viewer gather in relation to the ‘truth’ and ‘fidelity’ as represented in the movie?

11.   In what way does the music used in the movie assist the spectator in understanding the theme?

12.   How faithfully are the politics of Spain represented?  Was the entire country subjected to war and all of the cities destroyed by its effects?

13.   What do you observe in the wardrobe of the characters?  Why did some wear light colors while other were always dressed in dark clothing? 

14.   Who wore light / dark colors and what does this symbolize?  How can the choice of wardrobe and colors help the observer to better understand the message of the film?

15.   What does the open ending of the movie plot presented in the closed frame of the family picture represent?


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