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Urban Madrid on Film: The Gran Vía

by Benjamin Fraser

This sequence is fascinating for its formal properties alone (camera, editing, drastic lighting shifts, staccato narration...), but just as important is an understanding of the urban scene depicted. From the rural outskirts of the Spanish capital we are thrust into central Madrid. Highlighted are various points along the Gran Vía - a grandiose urban project dating from the early twentieth century. On the heels of other urban changes from the mid-late nineteenth century (the creation of the Puerta del Sol, for example), the Gran Vía was constructed to be an emblem of modernity. Think about how film form and content work together to create a singular representation of the urban experience. (This sequence is best viewed along with readings by Edward Baker (2009), Malcolm Alan Compitello (1999, 2003), Benjamin Fraser (2013), Susan Larson (2011), Carlos Ramos (2010), Nathan Richardson (2002, 2012) and more).

First sequence from La ciudad no es para mí (Lazaga, 1965)

This first sequence from La ciudad no es para mí [the city isn't for me] (1965) by Spanish director Pedro Lazaga unites form and content in a dazzling image of Madrid by representing the city's central artery the Gran Vía.

from La ciudad no es para mí (1965)
Creator: Pedro Lazaga
Posted by Benjamin Fraser