Cinergía Movie File:

Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens) 

Dirigido por Carlos Suara, 1976

 

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Jennifer Penry- Pre-screening

Edwin Úbeda- Comprehension and Criticism

Deanna Kohrs- Media Analysis

Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:

Section 1: Pre-screening

Section 2: 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.

Information about the Spanish Civil War and Post-war Period:

 

 http://www.guerracivil1936.galeon.com/

La Guerra Civil Española.  (The Spanish Civil War) This site, in Spanish, gives a brief summary of the Spanish Civil War and includes links to sites with more detailed information about related topics.  The information on this page is centered on The Republic, The Civil War, and other miscellaneous topics.  Perhaps even more important is the site’s anticipated addition of a section about Women and the Civil War.

 

 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/4087/index.html

About censorship during the Franco-dictatorship: The effects of censorship  This site by Jeroen Oskam during personal research is about the cultural history of Spain and incorporates the following topics: About censorship, Camilo José Cela , About the alleged «liberal» orientation of the Spanish Catholic Church During the First Years of the Franco Dictatorship, About «left-wing» falangism in Spain.  Some of the research is available in both English and Spanish.

 

 

http://www.sispain.org/english/history/

Review of Spanish history.

 

Links to Women and Feminism in Spain:

http://www.nodo50.org/mujeresred/historia-MaryNash1.html

El aprendizaje del feminismo histórico en España by Mary Nash.  This site is in Spanish.  It includes topics similar to those addressed in her book from 1995, Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War.  The divisions of the site are the following:  El feminismo histórico como movimiento social; El aprendizaje del feminismo: cultura política y desarrollo del movimiento de las mujeres: Identidad de género y la formulación del feminismo; Itinerarios y experiencia como aprendizaje social Feminismos e itinerarios de movilización de las mujeres; Repensando los feminismos.  This is a good representation of the life of the Spanish woman during the evolution of feminism in Spain.  It will help the viewer by providing several perspectives on the Spanish women represented in the movie, from the new generation to the older ones.

http://www.nodo50.org/mujeresred/feminismo-maria_salas.html

Una mirada sobre los sucesivos feminismos by María Salas.  This article is also a part of the “Mujeres en Red” website.  It is written in Spanish and addresses the following themes of feminism: Las Precursoras, El Sufragismo, Sufragismo en Inglaterra, Feminismo en España, La Segunda Ola del Feminismo, Movimiento de Liberación de la Mujer, Feminismo Radical, Feminismo de la Diferencia, La Segunda Ola del Feminismo en España, Antecedentes, El «Boom» de los Años Setenta, Las Reformas Legales, El Feminismo Después de los Años Ochenta, Grupos Pequeños y Diversidad de Objetivos / Fomento de la Investigación Universitaria, Recuperación de la Propia Historia, y Feminismo Institucional.  The information given about the beginnings of feminism and feminism in England can help build a foundation of knowledge about feminism so that it can be applied to the context of Spain. 

 

http://centros5.pntic.mec.es/ies.parque.de.lisboa/alumnos2001/index.html

Historia de la Mujer en España.  The introduction given on the page provides explanation for its existence and the identity of its creators: Esta web ha sido realizada por los alumnos de 2º de Bachillerato del IES Parque de Lisboa durante el curso académico 2000-2001. Se ha llevado a cabo como una actividad de la asignatura de Historia de España (profesor: Juan Carlos Ocaña), en el marco del Proyecto Educativo Europeo "Hombres y Mujeres en la Sociedad Europea Actúal" en la que participa nuestro centro.  En diferentes trabajos hemos tratado de reflejar la enorme transformación que ha experimentado la condición de las mujeres durante el siglo XX en nuestro país.  The sections are entitled: La Mujer a Finales del S. XIX y principios del XX; La Mujer en la Segunda República; La Mujer en la Guerra Civil; La Mujer en el Franquismo, La Mujer en la Transición, La Mujer en el Trabajo del S. XX, Filmografía, y Gráficos.

 

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go2537/is_200201/ai_n6809745

Feminist Discourse and Spanish Cinema: Sight Unseen by Roberta Johnson.  This English language page gives a good summary of the book by Martín-Márquez and includes a review written by Kathleen M. Vernon.  Even though this site does not have the actual information given in the text, the summary itself provides enough information for the individual who is not up-to-date on the politics of feminism and the representation of feminist views in movies.

 

 http://www.geocities.com/Paris/2159/womspain.html

Mujeres Libres.  In this site, one finds the author’s notes on a conference she gave in July of 1995.  She provides information about the beginnings of the feminist magazine Mujeres Libres, what types of articles it included, the feminist principles represented in it, the work of Spanish women in the War, the reaction of the Anarchist movement to feminist tendencies and a conclusion.  She provides a valuable link to her own site about Anarchism & Women’s as well.  She gives a picture of feminism that can help the audience of Cría Cuervos to interpret the roles of the different women in the movie.

 

http://imdb.com/title/tt0074360/

Internet Movie Database entry for Cría Cuervos  This site has basic information about the movie: The director, the actors, the date of production, etc.  It also includes a brief plot summary and a review.

 

Part II. Pre-screening questions

  1. What was Spain like before the Civil War? (Politics, people, the country in general compared to others.)
  2. When was the Spanish Civil War?  How was it different than other civil wars?
  3. What were the names of the opposing political parties in the war?  What was each side fighting for?
  4. When did the War end, and who won?
  5. In what ways was Spain different from other European countries after the War?
  6. Who was the dictator that gained control after the War?  How long did he remain in power?
  7. How did this dictator suppress any opposition to his politics?  What happened in terms of human rights under this dictator?
  8. Who controlled the censorship laws during this time period?  How did this effect the information available to the Spanish people?
  9. What type of Spain was the dictator trying to create?  Was he successful?
  10. What kind of cinema was permitted for the Spaniards during the times of censorship?
  11. How were people who were considered to be subversive or threatening to the dictatorship punished?
  12. What was the woman’s role in Spain before the Civil War?  How did that change during the War? After the War?
  13. Name some women important to the feminist movement in Spain.  What did each one do to promote feminist rights?
  14. When the War was over, what was the role of the Spanish woman under Franco?
  15. How did the new generation of Spanish women react to the Franco dictatorship?
  16. How were girls (and women) educated during the dictatorship?
  17. What is the theme of Cría Cuervos by Carlos Saura (1976)? How does that relate to the information gathered in the previous questions?

 


Section 2: Comprehension and Criticism

Part I. Comprehension Questions:

 

  1. Who are the main characters in the film and what roles do they play throughout the film?
  1. In the beginning of the movie, the director presents us with a collage of family photos. What is the purpose of the photographs and camera angles used in the album at the beginning of the movie?
  1. What is the intention of the director when presenting us with a child listening to an adult sex scene, and why does Ana spy on Anselmo and Amelia?
  1. Ana washes a glass in the beginning after discovering that her father was dead. What is the significance of her washing the glass, and why does she hide the glass behind the other glasses?
  1. When does Ana’s mother begin to appear in the film, and what is the importance of this?
  1. How would you describe the relationship between Ana and her mother throughout the film, and what is the relationship between Ana and Paulina?
  1. In your opinion, how does the film represent the challenge of the new generation in changing the future through the role-play of the girls in changing the future?
  1. In her mother’s words, what would be the consequence if anyone ingested the power, and what was Ana’s secret throughout the film?
  1. How are the three generations of women represented in the film, (the grandmother, Paulina and Amelia, and the young girls)?
  1. What is Rosa’s (the maid) advice to Ana about men, and how does she discover this? (one example is when Rosa is cleaning the glass)
  1. Which was one of the many memories that the older Ana could not ever forget from her childhood?
  1. Maria was considered a typical married woman in the Spain of Franco, why does she abandon her passion for music?
  1.  According to the younger Ana, what was the reason for her mother’s death, and what do you think really caused her death?
  1. Why does Ana wants Paulina to die? And how does she attempt to bring this about?
  1. How is the kitchen scene at the beginning of the film? And why is it repeated towards the end of the film?
  1. What is the type of relationship Paulina and Nicolas end up having at the end of the film?
  1. In your opinion, what does the director attempt to communicate to the viewer at the end of the film when the girls go to school?

Parte II.  Contexto Histórico

The following quotes provide information to facilitate a historical and feminist critique of the film.

The quotes are from the following texts:

 Nash, Mary. Defying male civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War. Arden Press, Inc. 1995. 

 Esenwein, George and Shubert Adrian. Spain at War. New York: Pearson Education, Inc. 1995.

  1. How is the Catholic institution presented and viewed in the movie? And what evidence do we see of the pervasiveness of the institution in the film?
  1. Through the role of Maria and the grandmother the film portrayed the pefecta casada (perfect married lady). Would you agree that Maria and the grandmother character’s provide an accurate representation of the women during Franco’s dictatorship?
  1. After the death of Franco, the new generation had to choose a path. How is this symbolically portrayed in the end?
  1. How accurate is the role-played by the men? And what criticism arises towards the Catholic institution?
  1. Historically, did Franco’s plan to utilize the Catholic institution to assist him in establishing a new social order truly succeed?
  1.  In the movie we see two love affairs, the first between Anselmo y Amelia, and the second between Nicolas and Paulina. Why do you think sexual immorality prevailed although it was completely apposed and suppressed by the institutions? What does this say about the social institution?
  1. Amelia, as a woman, is suppressed and not allowed to follow her dream. How accurate is this historically?
  1. How does the young and older Ana a representation of the new generation during and after the dictatorship?
  1. In the film, Ana asks several times: “when am I going to give my first communion?” How much would you say Catholicism influenced the younger generation in Franco’s time?
  2. Ana pointed a gun at Paulina (a possible symbol for the proclamation of liberation), but in reality, what would you say is her only legitimate defense against such an oppressive system? How is she a potential agent for change in such a patriarchal society?

 


Section 3: Media analysis  

Parte I.  Still Analysis

 

Hidden in the darkness

 

Dressed in white as an innocent young girl, Ana ironically deceives the spectator in this   closed frame medium still that begins the movie Cría cuervos. The chiaroscuro lighting reveals the psychological division of this protagonist, because while she is an innocent child born under Franco, Ana also wants to destroy the patriarchal system.  The key light radiates from the left side at the same level of Ana, illuminating half of her face while the dark background accentuates her desire to hide as if a criminal.  This scene inverts the Freudian Oedipal scene, because Ana believes she is killing her father with poisoned milk.  Instead of permitting the continuation of the adulterous cycle that degrades and harms women, Ana wants to subvert her nationalist father’s sexuality.  

 

Both of these medium shot, closed-frame stills reflect similar scenes.  Both depict a nationalist, adulterous man and a mistreated women, yet while Ana innocently observes her mother questioning her husband about his infidelity in the still to the right, she ironically plays her mother’s role in the reenactment of the situation with her sisters.  Cinematographically, both stills utilize a triangular position of the main characters in deep focus, yet while “The role-play” employs natural lighting that enters from the two windows, there is an overhead light in the fantastic scene of “The confrontation” that highlights the position of Ana as a quiet observer while her parents remain in shadow with illuminated profiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Role Play 

 

 

The shot of the role-play foreshadows “The confrontation” and alludes to the fact that the girls are aware of the marital discord in the family.  Also, while Maite and Ana utilize different names and parts (those of Rosa and Amelia) in the reenactment, it’s interesting how Ana wears an outfit similar to her mother’s and seems to play this part instead of that of Amelia.  Also, Maite is positioned in the middle of the frame just as Ana is in the second still (as if playing Ana instead of the maid Rosa), and like Ana, looks toward the mother as if pendent of her reactions.  In addition, the menacing pose of Anselmo in the right frame contrasts with the part Irene plays of her father while seated.  It also is important to point out that Ana plays a stronger and more confident part in the reenactment when she doesn’t want to be quiet and submissive upon saying, “I don’t feel like it….,” in comparison with her sick mom who aguishly expresses “I want to die…”  While Ana’s mom didn’t find any other solution to resist the patriarchal system but her desire to die, the sister’s role-play depicts the possibility of subverting the vicious cycle of infidelity in the future, or of repeating the same errors.        

 

 

   The Confrontation

Ana and her mom. The intimate relationship between Ana and her mom is unquestionable in the well lit still in which the two are positioned very close to one another while looking out at the spectator.  Both have the identical facial expression and hairstyle, and are wearing a similar blue, tranquil colored outfit.  It is as if the mother and daughter form a double image, which alludes to the fact that Geraldine Chaplin also plays the part of adult Ana in addition to the compassionate mom in the film. The still represents Ana’s fantasy of imagining her dead mother in the bathroom fixing her hair and giving her kisses before her nationalist father’s funeral.  The strong lighting accentuates this illusion due to the various light sources.  While the natural backlight enters through the window, the key light is positioned directly on the faces of the two protagonists, stressing the strong bond that they share.  In addition, a lateral light originates from the right of Ana, casting a shadow on her mother’s face and accentuating this sentimental fantasy. 
Ana and Aunt Paulina.    While there is a lot of compassion shared between Ana and her mother in the first still, the shot of Ana and Paulina represents the rejected relationship between the nationalist aunt and daring niece. The chiaroscuro, low shot lighting radiates from the left and symbolizes the conflict between the two characters.  Only their faces are illuminated during this confrontation.  Similar to the still of Ana and her mom, they are wearing similar clothing, and shown in deep focus in a shot level with their gazes.  Yet contrary to the first serene scene, the color red alludes to violence and symbolizes the fact that Ana is attempting to poison her aunt whom she sees as a accomplice in the patriarchal cycle.  The distanced position of the two in the closed frame also contrasts with that of the mother and daughter. Instead of looking toward Ana, Aunt Paulina looks down, symbolizing the complete lack of communication.  In addition, Ana’s shadowed face differentiates from her innocent face in the first frame, and refers to her desire to destroy the nationalist system that she inherited under Franco and now has the chance to subvert.         

 

The Renounced Profession 

This closed frame shot depicts the moment when Ana’s mom plays her favorite song so as to lull her to sleep.  The key light enters the frame from a slightly elevated point to the right of Ana, and illuminates the two protagonists in deep focus. Ana is brightly lit, accentuating her innocence while dressed in a symbolic white nightgown.  The strong chiaroscuro light also symbolizes her ability to fantasize these tender moments shared with her mother, which draws attention to the intimate mother – daughter relationship.  Another clue that reveals this dreamt fantasy is the fact the mother is dressed in the same blue outfit that she always wears in Ana’s dreams.

In addition to depicting the close relationship between Ana and her mom, the low angle shot accentuates the importance of Maria playing the piano because it depicts her renounced profession as a pianist.  Instead of developing her independent talents, Ana’s mom conformed to the demands of the patriarchal society upon marrying and becoming the perfect, ideal wife that the Catholic Church promoted. 

Part II.  Media Literacy Questions

 

  1. Carlos Saura directed the film Cría cuervos.  Did he reside in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship, and how does this answer affect the production of this movie?
  2. When was Cría cuervos released, and why is this year significant?
  3. Who owns the medium and funded the production of the film?  Was it meant for a Spanish audience?  At whom is the movie targeted?
  4. Why is the title Cría cuervos (Raising Ravens) and the saying “Raise ravens, and they’ll peck your eyes out” significant in relation to the plot of the movie?
  5. How does the chiaroscuro lighting and dark background used throughout the movie contribute to a sense of isolation and loneliness in pos-Franco Spain?
  6. How does Saura cinematographically manipulate and deceive the spectator’s initial interpretation of the events depicted throughout the film?  Consider the opening scene, for instance. 
  7. Why is there little dialogue in the movie? When there is dialogue, what is Saura trying to communicate about Spain, the recent pos-Franco era, as well as the interaction between generations?   
  8. Why does Saura utilize flash-forward? (Remember that the film was released in the 1976, and that 1996 related to twenty years in the future.)  Do you think the Saura imagined a lot of improvement and progress between 1976 and 1996?
  9. What is function and importance of the pan shot?  How does the pan emphasis the distance between the characters and manipulate the concept of time?
  10. What psychological effect does the repeated use of close-up and medium shots have in terms of the spectator’s interpretation of the events and characters?        
  11. In relation to the camera angles employed in the film, is the spectator brought closer to the events depicted in the movie or distanced from them?
  12. From what perspective does the director depict the events, and how does the camera angle reflect this point of view?   
  13. Why do you think the same actress, Geraldine Chaplin, plays the dual role of the adult Ana as well as young Ana’s mother?
  14. How does Saura cinematographically show the contrast between generations as well as gender?  What is he trying to communicate?
  15. How does Maria’s sickness represent the weakness of the female gender as well the Spain of that era?
  16. What is the importance of the piano music and the song “Por qué te vas’?
  17. How does Anselmo’s death symbolically represent the end of Franco’s forty-year dictatorship?
  18. Why does the movie have an open ending?  What does this say about Spain’s future?

 

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