How Spanish directors have handled religious themes, with their highly-charged political implications, from the historical avant-garde to 2010
Treatments of religion found in Spanish cinema range from the pious to the anticlerical and atheistic, and every position in between. In a nation with a strong Catholic tradition, resistance to and rebellion against religious norms go back almost as far as the notion of “Sacred Spain.” Religion and Spanish Film provides a sustained study of the religious film genre in Spain practiced by mainstream Francoist film makers, the evolving iconoclasm, parody, and reinvention of the Catholic by internationally renowned Surrealist Luis Buñuel, and the ongoing battle of the secular versus the religious manifested in critically and popularly acclaimed directors Pedro Almodóvar, Julio Medem, Alejandro Amenábar, and many others. The conflicted Catholicism that emerges from examining religious themes in Spanish film history shows no sign of ending, as unresolved issues from the Civil War and Franco dictatorship, as well as the unsettled relationship between Church and State, continue into the present.
Elizabeth Scarlett is Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature at the University of Buffalo, SUNY.