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Thursday, November 6, 2014 (read 1677 times)

Spanish language movies...

by Lauris

... that every Spanish teacher should know

Here we are, racking our brains trying to come up with a method for selecting films which for different reasons may be of use to us as Spanish teachers.

Here in Spain of course, with our habit (a bad habit in my opinion) of dubbing foreign language films, you could say that just about every movie showing in this country is a “película en español”. Curiously, Spaniards are often disappointed when they hear the authentic voice of a famous Hollywood actor, where it’s even common to hear comments such as “Humphrey Bogart sure has a squeaky voice… I like him better in Spanish”.

But we’re going to stick with movies that have come out in the last few years and which are Spanish in their original version. This is clearly a very personal list and I understand that everyone has their own preferences. I do however believe that all these are all valuable films that you can use in the classroom –either with a complete screening or a selected scene. You could then ask students to compose either a summary of what they’ve seen or you could even eliminate the sound of a scene and have them complete the dialogue. You could also discuss intercultural matters the film may highlight.

So here go my picks; it’s a list I’ve put together with no attempts at being objective or academic. Again, these are simply movies that I have enjoyed showing in class and which have generated great interest among my students.

Some of these movies cover relatively recent topics, social issues or problems we see today. These are dramas or thrillers that can open up a class discussion after viewing.

Starting off with a touch of originality, the first film is Blancanieves by Pablo Berger. It’s stereotypically Spanish vision, voiceless and in black and white, of the classic fairytale we all know. Showing this provides the perfect excuse to bring up the topic of cultural stereotypes and prejudices about Spain and Latin America.

To give your students the chance to hear the Chilean or Argentine accent, you could show them El baile de la Victoria, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by A. Skármeta. Here you could compare and evaluate the cinematic version with the original text.

El secreto de sus ojos is thriller by Juan José Campanella with a stellar performance from Ricardo Darín.

Icíar Bollían went to Bolivia to shoot También la lluvia, which reflects the historic time of Guerra de agua in that country.

Pájaros de papel by Emilio Aragón is a melodrama about the life of comedians during a time of heavy censorship enforced in the era of Francoist Spain.

Ismael by Marcelo Piñeyro is a beautiful story of a man who is reunited with a son he never knew existed. It’s an emotionally charged tale that places the topic of family relationships on the table for careful analysis.

Switching gears we approach the genre of comedy, which ranges from the type of absolute absurdity seen in Los amantes pasajeros by Pedro Amodóvar, to Las brujas de Zugarramurdi by Alex de la Iglesia. These films give us a chance to delve deep into the sense of humor and plays on words appreciated by Spaniards, which may not be the same type of humor students know from their own countries.

I must include Relatos salvajes by Damián Szifron, a kaleidoscope of six stories about people who reach their limits and lose control in a special way. The film features some of today’s best known Argentine actors.

Kamikaze by Álex Pina is a wonderful story about a group of people isolated in a hotel in Russia, a picture that achieves a sentimental and humorous balance that makes for enjoyable viewing.

I’ve got to include here Ocho apellidos vascos with all the stereotypes it captures in the form of an Andalusia man and a Basque woman who at once oppose and attract one another.

And to wrap up this list, I’m recommending a film that holds a special place in my memory: Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados by David Trueba. This movie, based on a true story, shows that reality is often stranger than fiction. The cinematography, the performances and the soundtrack are all exceptional. The story offers a great excuse to bring up a debate on meaningful learning and our students’ declarative knowledge of Spanish, taking about how to learn to learn, or in our case, how to learn to teach.

Keywords: spanish movies,spanish films,david trueba,spanish language movies,película en español,spanish cinema,spanish language films,spanish film


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