Celluloid Consensus

A Comparative Approach to Film in Portugal During World War II

Authored by: Isabel Capeloa Gil

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


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Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar suffered from an acknowledged iconophobia. On several occasions he was reported to be suspicious of the power of images both for their superficiality and for their astounding ability to move. The fear of the visible is transported to political action and the dictator and the State mutatis mutandis embody a rhetoric of invisibility, as philosopher José Gil (1995) claims, that informs the body politic with the dictator’s self-effacement and promotes a repressive logic of the hidden and obscure in political action. The contentious relation of the “invisible” dictator with film is contrasted with Francisco Franco’s desire to be visible and to the power imparted to film by the Nationalists in the wake of the Spanish Civil War. And yet, despite the distinctive personalities of the dictators and the different conditions under which films were produced in the two Iberian countries in the 1930s, it is clear that the moving image, in films, documentaries and newsreels, was pivotal in setting up the totalitarian imaginary of the dictatorships.

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