Conflicting Documentary Strategies and Italian Counter-propaganda in the Spanish Civil War

in Representing Wars from 1860 to the Present
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AbstractThis chapter provides a comparative study of two militant documentaries shot in Spain during the Civil War: Joris Ivens’s The Spanish Earth (u.s.a., 1937) and Romolo Marcellini’s Los novios de la muerte (Italy, 1938), the latter conceived as a Fascist response to Ivens’s pro-Republican film. The two documentaries pursued very different objectives, Ivens’s aiming to shift American opinion in favour of helping Spanish Republicans while Marcellini’s film meant to demonstrate the power of the Italian armed forces in Spain. Relating militant strategies to representational models, the study investigates the common pool of motifs and the use of different generic models underpinning the author-viewer pact established in each film, notably the newsreel model as opposed to the spectacular and fictional forms. Moreover, using the reception history of the two documentaries, the analysis reassesses the field of action of propaganda which, rather than radically changing the audiences’ attitudes, mostly reinforces existing beliefs.

Representing Wars from 1860 to the Present

Fields of Action, Fields of Vision

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