Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays

Issue 12 – 2023 (2)


Sylvia González Rodríguez (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

How to cite this article: González Rodríguez, S. (2023). Realism(s). Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays, 12, 2023(2). ISSN: 2659-4269

The cinema produced in the 1950s is a main focus in Spanish film historiography. Since Carlos F. Heredero published Las huellas del tiempo: cine español 1951-1962 (1993), the discussion about what realism or, Spanish neorealism is, has become a capital issue. In this decade “a period is taking shape in which a progressive tension is generated in the perspective of certain Spanish filmmakers that will irrevocably lead to the assumption of the principles of Modernity from a clear assumption of their own popular traditions” (Castro de Paz and Cerdán, 2011: p.28).

The starting point of this video essay begins with the study of the theories of the author Luis Deltell in his book Madrid en el cine de la década de los años cincuenta (2006). It has also been extremely inspiring his short documentary film En la ciudad perdida (Luis Deltell, 2009) to learn about the filming that took place in the city of Madrid, a fundamental setting for these films: “Among these signs of aesthetic identity, the film space acquires a special role as an inseparable and fundamental part of the world that is intended to be represented.” (Fernández Hoya, 2021: p.35). Another key reference has been Samuel Alarcón with his video essay La ciudad de los signos (2009). 

Spanish realist cinema ha a problematic development due to the political circumstances of the time, although, “the decade began with government changes in July 1951 that led to the creation of the Ministry of Information and Tourism, with Arias Salgado in charge, which was a guarantee of orthodoxy and firmness in censorship” (Arocena, 2005: p. 80). The censorship of the time dissected a series of films that according to the regime were not good examples for the country and its culture, considering them immoral and uncomfortable. “Saving souls for heaven was the mission of this Falangist” (Arocena, 2005: p. 80). During Franco’s regime, the repercussions for some filmmakers and, in genera,l for the development of Spanish cinema were disastrous and oppressive. “Censorship was the legislative main bone of filmmakers of the time, Omnipresent and powerful, Spanish filmmakersr always had it in mind, either to mock it, to suffer its attacks or to try to control its arbitrariness”  (Arocena, 2005: p. 87).   In this regard, “Juan Antonio Bardem’s sentence summarizes the conclusions: Spanish cinema was politically ineffective, socially false, intellectually inferior, aesthetically null, industrially rickety” (Deltell, 2009: p.211). The situation was serious, perhaps due to the consequences of censorship, and “perhaps due to the entrepreneurial smallholderism that according to Pérez Perucha characterizes the production of the decade” (Arocena, 2005: p.89).

In the 1950s this movement regains more importance in the cinematographic panorama due to the enthusiasm of the filmmakers and the support of some institutions. “The great intellectual event of Spanish cinema of the decade was Salamanca’s conversations. In 1955 film directors, critics, fans, producers… met at the University of Salamanca and discussed the flaws of Spanish cinema” (Deltell, 2009: p.211). From these conversations, young directors begin to make more social films, realism regains interest. “If we had to define Spanish cinema of the 1950s in two words, they would be: reflect reality” (Arocena, 2005: p.92). Thus,  “the first directors to lay the foundations of this realist current were called by some critics and publicists the generation of innovators: Mur Oti, Del Amo, Nieves Conde or Ruiz Castillo” (Perucha, 1993: p.48). These early realist directors  were linked to Italian Neorealism. 

The central aim of this video essay is to scrutinize  the analogies and similarities that exist between these two movements and the possible influences that many authors claim could exist between these two cinematographic currents. Many authors point out that “realism is presented as a permanent current in Spanish art” (Deltell, 2006: p.21). And according to Gubern (2014) in the 1955 Salamanca Conversations “ film is committed to a journey towards the great realist tradition of Spanish culture and the names of Ribera, Goya, Quevedo and Mateo Alemán are mentioned” (pp. 460-461). In  this video essay, the connection  between Spanish realism and neorealism becomes apparent as well as the common goal of both movements: exploring  the daily reality of society.  As Lino Micciché states there is a commitment: “to an ethics of aesthetics” (Noguera, 2013, p. 26). The analogies that exist between these two countries, culture, customs, and architecture are the main key that links them (Colella, 2016).


  • Arocena Badillos C. (2005). Luces y sombras. Los largos años cincuenta (1951-1962). En Castro de Paz, J. L., Pérez Perucha, J., & Zunzunegui, S. (Dir.). La nueva  memoria. Historia (s) del cine español (1939-2000) (pp.80-92).  Vía Láctea.
  • Castro, de Paz, J. L., Cerdán, J. (2011). Del sainete al esperpento: Relecturas del cine español de los años 50. Grupo Anaya.
  • Colella, F. (2016). Paisajes neorrealistas. Cultura y arquitectura habitacional multifamiliar en Italia y España en la posguerra. 1943-1963. CONTEXTO. Revista de la Facultad de Arquitectura de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 10(12), 77-86. 
  • Deltell, Escolar. L. (2009). El cine en Europa, Latinoamérica y Asia (1940-1959). En Deltell, L. García, J. Quero, M. Breve historia del cine (p.p. 196-217). Fragua. 
  • Deltell Escolar, L. (2006). Madrid en el cine de la década de los cincuenta. Madrid: Área de Gobierno de las Artes. 
  • Fernández Hoya, F. (2021). La ciudad de Madrid en el cine de Luis Garcia Berlanga. En Alfeo, J. Deltell, L. (Eds.). Madrid ciudad de imágenes (p.38). Fragua. 
  • Heredero, C. F. (1993). Las huellas del tiempo: Cine español 1951-1961. Filmoteca de la  Generalitat Valenciana.   
  • Gubern, R. (2014). Historia del cine. Anagrama
  • Noguera, M. (2013). Aportaciones de Roberto Rossellini al discurso crítico sobre el neorrealismo italiano. Observatorio (OBS*  7(3). 019-033 1646-5954/ERC123483/2013 019. 
  • Pérez Perucha, J. (1993). Elementos introductorios a un cineasta singular. Vértigo. Revista de cine, (8), 48-51. http://hdl.handle.net/10251/42994 



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Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays
ISSN: 2659-4269
© Tecmerin Research Group
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid