University of Nevada, Reno

Faculty and StaffSantiago de Pablo

Santiago de Pablo


William Douglass Distinguished Scholar (2009-2010)


Dr. de Pablo is a professor of modern history at the University of the Basque Country. Visit his web page by clicking here.


While in residence at the Center for Basque Studies, Dr. de Pablo will be researching Basque political violence in film. He explains:


"In the last decades historiography has accepted that cinema is not only a source of history but also a challenge on our way of explaining and transmitting history. A characteristic of our modern society is the impact of audiovisual media: cinema, television, video, DVD and, more recently, the Internet.

From the start, cinema has not been indifferent to social, historic and political problems of each period and country. Michelle Lagny affirms that cinema “can be considered as a «witness» of the way of thinking and feeling of a society, or a an «agent» of certain transformations by the repetition of some representations, or even, as a way of offering «models» more or less stupid and dangerous. Besides, cinema has an ideological and also political influence: both as propaganda, under the control of the authority, and also as a militant or alternative force in the hands of an anti-establishment movement”.

The multiple connexions among cinema, history and society have been analyzed by various historians, both on a theoretical and general level, or as an analysis of concrete historical incidents seen through cinema: from the pioneering studies of Sigfried Kracauer or Mar Ferro, to the more recent studies by Pierrre Sorlin, K. R. M. Short, Robert Rosenstone, Shlomo Sand, Marcia Landy, Marnie Hughes-Warrington, etc.

In the last thirty years, the modern history of the Basque Country has been the object of quite a number of films, both documentaries and fiction. As it is to be expected, given the importance of ETA in the recent history of the Basque Country and the force of terrorism as a source of inspiration for cinema, most of these films are centred in the Basque problem and, more specifically in the activities of ETA or GAL. This recent Basque cinema has been analyzed from the perspective of the history of cinema (Santos Zunzunegui, Carlos Roldán), of visual arts (Juan Miguel Gutierrez) and even of cultural studies (María Pilar Rodríguez).

Nevertheless, there is not a monographic study about forty full-length films about ETA, both fiction and documentaries. To which should be added a good number of short length films. The object of my study is the analysis of this cinematographic corpus from the point of view of the relations between history and cinema. But I am not going to study the television productions, because of the difficulty to trace all of them.

In the first part of my study I will analyze each one of the movies: the plot, the script, the conditions of the production, the relationship with political or ideological groups, the commercial success or failure, etc. Then I intend to relate each film, or group of films, with the time when the films were made. I also intend to define those subjects and aspects about ETA that are common to these films and those that vary, from the so called Transition to present democracy, while the Basque society and politics change during the same period. At the same time, I intend to compare the way terrorism has been filmed in other countries (Ireland, Italy, Germany, etc.). Summing up, I intend to see how the history of ETA –the most important and tragic aspect of recent Basque history– has been reflected in the cinema screens and how these films have influenced the perception of violence by the Basque society."



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