The rejection suffered in Spain by Fernando Arrabal’s cinematography, specifically by his films dealing with the Spanish Civil War, Viva la muerte (1971) and L’arbre de Guernica (1975), stands in contrast with the international appraisal received in France or the United States. The Spanish playwright and filmmaker, exiled in France since 1955, confronted with his cinematic memory the established historical master narrative in Spain both during Franco’s dictatorship and the newly born democracy, and experienced accordingly a fierce national critical backlash.

The fact that Arrabal wrote both film scripts in Spanish, based on his previous literary and theatrical work, had them translated into French in order to be produced into films in his country of exile, and finally had them retranslated into Spanish for their delayed national release, suggests an intimacy between historical narrative and translation This essay undertakes as a case study Arrabal’s cinematic memory, which confronts an institutionally established historical master narrative. The key issue is to consider whether exiled artists can represent any form of national identity through their work, produced in a different language, more specifically if it deals with the recent historical past which caused their exile.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License