The Resynchronization of a Regime (1940-1950)

February 28, 2011
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In 1940, Francisco Franco, using the pseudonym Jaime de Andrade, authored a treatment for a screenplay, titled “Raza [Race]:  Story lines for a film script.”  The following year, the script was made into a feature-length film, produced by the government.

The original text and the 1941 film are invaluable documents, as they offer us a glimpse into the idealized and mythologized world view of Franco and his movement so soon after the end of the Spanish Civil War, and in the midst of the gathering storm clouds of World War II.

The film graphically puts on the display many of the attributes of Francoism that Helen Graham lays out so nicely in “The Spanish Civil War:  A Very Short Introduction.”  A profound disdain for democratic, parliamentary forms, which are represented as being responsible both for Spain’s of loss of Empire in 1898 and her “descent into anarchy” with the inauguration of the Republic in 1931.  A tendency to attribute all of the country’s problems to liberalism, modernity and Masonic conspiracies; a beatific vision of Catholicism and Spain’s Catholic Church; a profound hatred of the United States and its Republican values; a belief that Spain’s essence had been preserved primarily in the patriotic and self-sacrificing ranks of the military which, during the Spanish Civil War would need to save Spain once again.  The prominence of the Falange and fascist salutes, particularly in the closing victory scenes.

As if this itself weren’t interesting enough, there’s an additional fascinating twist in the history of this film.   In 1950, the regime re-issued the film, with a new title –“Spirit of a Race”.  The re-release was allegedly carried out because the film’s soundtrack was in need of resynchronization.  The regime had all prints of the original 1941 version destroyed.  Or so they thought.

In 1995, a complete negative of the original film was found in the Berlin Film Archives.  Scholars have compared the two versions, and come up with a list of important differences:

  1. scenes showing children, adults and Franco himself giving the fascist salute were deleted
  2. references to the Falange were expunged, including a falangist song performed by Francoist soldiers at the front
  3. negative newspaper headlines and comments about the United States and democracy were deleted
  4. negative comments about the “antifascist” enemy were redubbed so that in the new version the references are to the “communist” enemy.

It would be hard to come up with more graphic evidence of the ways in which Francoism tried to “redub” and “resynchronize” itself in the wake of the defeat of the Axis, and amidst the hopes –ultimately fulfilled—of cozying up to the US in the context of the emerging new world order of the Cold War.

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