The University of Wisconsin Press

Film / Cultural Studies / Spain

Dark Laughter
Spanish Film, Comedy, and the Nation
Juan F. Egea

Wisconsin Film Studies
Patrick McGillian, Series Editor

“Dark Laughter provides us with a refreshingly new set of frames for viewing Spanish dark comedy.”
—Eva Woods Peiro, Vassar College

In Dark Laughter, Juan F. Egea provides a remarkable in-depth analysis of the dark comedy film genre in Spain, as well as a provocative critical engagement with the idea of national cinema, the visual dimension of cultural specificity, and the ethics of dark humor.

Egea begins his analysis with General Franco’s dictatorship in the 1960s—a regime that opened the country to new economic forces while maintaining its repressive nature—exploring key works by Luis García Berlanga, Marco Ferreri, Fernando Fernán-Gómez, and Luis Buñuel. Dark Laughter then moves to the first films of Pedro Almodóvar in the early 1980s during the Spanish political transition to democracy before examining Alex de la Iglesia and the new dark comedies of the 1990s. Analyzing this younger generation of filmmakers, Egea traces dark comedy to Spain’s displays of ultramodernity such as the Universal Exposition in Seville and the Barcelona Olympic Games.

At its core, Dark Laughter is a substantial inquiry into the epistemology of comedy, the intricacies of visual modernity, and the relationship between cinema and a wider framework of representational practices.

Juan F. Egea
is a professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of La poesía del nosotros: Jaime Gil de Biedma y la secuencia lírica moderna. He has also published extensively on Spanish film, poetry, and culture.

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Of Related Interest
Luis Buñuel
The Red Years, 1929–1939
Román Gubern and Paul Hammond
“An indispensable book for the Buñuel scholar and
important to those interested in the history of Spanish film, the in-workings of the Surrealist movement, and the European left-wing political scene from the late twenties through the Spanish Civil War.”—Julie Jones, University of New Orleans


November 2013
LC: 2013010413 PN
202 pp.   6 x 9   28 b/w photos

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“Always insightful and often brilliant, Dark Laughter will force scholars to revisit Spanish cinema in the late years of the Franco dictatorship while introducing general audiences to some of the masterpieces of Spanish black comic cinema.”
—Marvin D’Lugo, author of Guide to Cinema in Spain


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Updated 8/2/2013

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