Los Demonios Familiares: (1) Los libros por las piedras (2) Tierra prometida (3) Combat del somni

Marcelo Expósito

Los demonios familiares is the general title of a series (actually unfinished) of short works, which comprises three videos produced in the first half of the 1990s. This title makes reference to the writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (whose book Los demonios familiares de Franco [Franco’s familiar demons] is paid an indirect tribute to), who had underscored the disturbing expression with which General Franco did occasionally refer to the supposed fantasms of the Spanish character: anarchy, individualism, negative criticism, extremism... and at other times, to its traditional historic demons: separatism, freemasonry, communism.

The project set out on a starting point common to all its parts: to construct short montage exercises with fragments of film from Francoist cinema, and relate these images to other heterogeneous visual and sound material. Los libros por las piedras (1990-91) features the film Raza (Race), directed by Sáenz de Heredia in 1941 and based on the book by the same title written by Jaime de Adrade, which is the pseudonym of Franciso Franco himself. The last sequence of this film is thrown against images of a sober landscape in Maastricht filled with the tombstones of soldiers fallen during the Second World War, and images of the last refugees of the Spanish Civil War going through the French border. On the soundtrack, a religious pakistani hymn sung by female voices is underlined by the percussion rhythm of the banging on male chests. In Tierra prometida (1992) the scene of the arrival of Columbus’ expedition to America, recreated archetypically in Alba de América (America’s dawn), is interspersed with images of the spectacular bombing of 1973, with which ETA killed Admiral Carrero Blanco, who is said to have exercised a lot of influence in the production of Alba de América, and who died on the same exact day of the month, on which, twenty-two years earlier, the film was premiered.

Other images of Tierra prometida include references to the execution by garrote of Salvador Puig Antich and Heinz Chez in 1974. In Combat del somni (1994), a quote by Rosa Luxemburg prefaces images of domestic Super 8 films of Francisco Franco that document the daily life of the régime’s highest ranks (including images of the current royal family in situations of happy repose). The soundtrack features music by Frederic Mompou, statements by members of the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista: Worker’s Party for Marxist Unification) and Jaime Miravitlles (the official responsible for propaganda and information at the Generalitat de Catalunya during the Civil War) extracted from the film La vieja memoria [Old memory], directed by Jaime Camino and Román Gubern in 1979. Other footage in the video include the congressional speech with which Felipe González caused the PSOE party to relinquish Marxism (the same year in which La vieja memoria was made) and a paraphrase by Guy Debord (spectacle as “the guardian of a dream”).

The pieces that compose Los demonios familiares are surely primitive reconstructions of (bad) dreams (inspired by Christian Metz’s notion of film as an imaginary signifier and his ideas about the oniric character of the cinematic apparatus). The montage of these videos looks to effect a sense both of identification and alienation, using juxtapositions that recreate dream processes of condensation, projection and displacement. The pieces are coarse dreams, somewhere between history and myth, searching for valves through which to decompress the “collective unconscious” of the images of a country with a fragile memory.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Los Demonios Familiares: (1) Los libros por las piedras (2) Tierra prometida (3) Combat del somni
  • Direction: Marcelo Expósito
  • Production: Marcelo Expósito, Jan van Eyck Akademie (Maastricht), CIEJ (Barcelona). 1990.
  • Team:

    Work composed by three parts:

    1.-Los Libros por las Piedras.

    Directed by: Marcelo Expósito

    Production: Marcelo Expósito, Jan van Eyck Akademie (Maastricht), CIEJ (Barcelona)

    Length: 05:40

    Year: 1990-91

    Languaje: Spanish

    Colour: colour and B/W

    Master: Betacam

    2.-Tierra Prometida.

    Directed by: Marcelo Expósito

    Production: Marcelo Expósito, II Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento/Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Generalitat Valenciana.

    Length: 05:47

    Year: 1992

    Languaje: Spanish

    Colour: B/W

    Master: Betacam

    3.-Combat del Somni.

    Directed by: Marcelo Expósito

    Production: Marcelo Expósito, Maite Ninou

    Length: 07:54

    Year: 1994

    Languaje: Catalan and Spanish

    Colour: colour and B/W

    Master: Betacam

  • Duration: 00:18:40
  • Languages: Catalan - Spanish
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Original format: Betacam SP
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: NTSC - PAL
  • License: Copyleft