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Representations of the Spanish Civil War in culture

A few ways in which artists and directors have tried to convey the horrors of the Spanish Civil War through art and film.

Another horror written and directed by Guillermo del Toro. This ghost story is set in a school/orphanage for children of the Spanish reds. However, the ghost story fails to be the horrifying factor in this film. Explosions and gunfire are so regular an occurance that nobody thinks twice about hearing gun shots and explosions at a children's home. This film highlights the experience of ordinary Spanish people as being the real horror story here.

Guillermo del Toro has written and directed a series of films that are set during the Spanish Civil War. These films are usually considered in the 'horror' genre, but ironically and subtly the real horror of the films is not the story but the setting of the civil war itself. In Pan's Labyrinth, the fascist officer and his soldiers are far more terrifying that any of the creatures from Pan's world. The constant on edge feeling conveys the great unease of living in a country at war with itself.

Picasso's 'The Weeping Woman' is a thematic continuation of the tragedy seen in his former painting 'Guernica'. Painted in 1937, the painting shows the suffering of the war and the long term, gripping effects it had on people's lives. However, Picasso does not directly refer to the Spanish Civil war, and so some have interpreted this painting as being representative of universal suffering.

This piece is by Pablo Picasso, renown for his cubist and abstract representations of life. 'Guernica' depicts the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes in support of the Spanish nationalist forces. It represents the needless but all-consuming devastation of the horrific air attacks on Spanish civilians.

Salvador Dali painted his 'Soft Construction with Boiled Beans' in 1936 during the political unrest in Spain that preceded the Civil War. This dismembered, disfigured and painful image is a symbolic prophecy of the horrors that were to come from the Spanish Civil War. Different parts of the disfigured body seem to be attacking each other, representing the self-mutilating nature of civil war.

Cowra U3A: Spanish Civil War

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