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Post Franco's Film "Raza"
Created by John Eipper on 05/02/15 8:59 AM

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Franco's Film "Raza" (Paul Preston, -UK, 05/02/15 8:59 am)

The film Raza was not lost. It was Franco's favourite film and he watched it almost weekly.

The film-script Raza: Anecdotario para el guión de una película is probably the best, although far from the only, example of the restructuring of his own life carried out by Franco himself. He dictated it during the last months of 1940 and the first of 1941, pacing up and down in his office. The text was then passed to the Falangist journalists Manuel Aznar and Manuel Halcón for the style to be corrected. Asked how he could spare the time in such tense moments to write fiction, Franco replied that it was merely a question of time-management, and that working to a timetable made everything possible. The fact of being able to write at all, almost as much as the intensely romantic style of the book, indicates the extent to which Franco was isolated from the real conditions of Spain at this time.

The text exchanges the modest reality of Franco's real family for the status of minor aristocracy, hidalgos. Similarly, the choice of pseudonym under which it was published, Jaime de Andrade, an ancient and noble family to which he was distantly connected through both of his parents, leaves little doubt about his social aspirations. Raza constitutes a revealing insight into Franco's egotistical drive to greatness. Not only does he romanticize his own parentage, childhood and social origins through the hero, José Churruca, but also manages to work in a reference to himself in all his own real glory as the all-seeing Caudillo.

Raza was an unmistakably autobiographical effort to reconstruct his genealogy and his childhood, both now felt to be unworthy of the providential Caudillo. In the script, and in the film itself, the central character's father, a naval officer who died heroically in Cuba in the Spanish-American war, is an idealistic creation who is the very opposite of Franco's own gambling and womanising father. In sentimentally indulging his fantasies, he makes good the frustrations of his own life. Raza was the most extreme and capricious manifestation of Franco's untiring efforts to create a perfect past.

The title reflected Franco's infatuation with Nazism. In Raza, Franco romantically retints his social origins and his childhood through the hero, José Churruca. In fact, at the peak of his power, Franco wrote a book in which he fabricated a past worthy of the providential Caudillo. His triumphs had not been able to wipe away the humiliations that he attributed to his father. The internal logic of the book derives from the idea that the protagonist (José Churruca/Franco) and his family represent everything of value in the Spanish race and thus they, like Franco, are capable of liberating Spain from the foreign poisons of liberalism, Freemasonry, socialism and communism. There are parallels between Franco's fabrication of his own life and his dictatorial remodeling of the life of Spain between 1936 and 1975. In the book, he created the ideal family and father that he had never had while in power he governed Spain believing himself to be a stern father of a tightly knit family.

Shortly after finishing the book, the resources of the State were put at the disposal of the film director José Luis Sainz de Heredia for him to transfer it to the big screen. At the first showing, Franco, never slow to cry, wept profusely like a child. Over the next thirty three years, he would watch it almost weekly. In 1950, the film was relaunched with the title changed to Espíritu de una raza and the soundtrack redubbed in order to remove the fascist connotations of the original. It is not known which of the two versions he preferred.

JE comments:  The tears and the weekly viewings:  there is something childlike about Franco's obsession with the film.  In just a few paragraphs, Paul Preston gives a masterful reading of Raza, together with insight into the Caudillo himself.

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