Trauma, Memory and Confinement: (Re)presentations of Space in Dictatorial Cinema

How Entertainment (Re)Presents Prison Spaces

In the films La voz dormida and La noche de los lápices prison spaces under both dictatorships are represented with restricted connections to the outside space, the construction of a collective community, and the subversive use of song. During the Franco regime in Spain, communists, members of the Republican Party, and anyone who dissented from the nationalist ideology the dictatorship enforced were arrested and/or executed. La voz dormida tells the story of Hortensia (Tensi), a pregnant woman who is arrested for affiliation with the Spanish Republican Party, and her sister Pepita’s attempts to free her. It is based on the book by the same title whose author, Dulce Chacón, collected testimonies from previously imprisoned women. La noche de los lápices similarly is based off of a book by the same title by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Núñez that took testimony from Pablo Diaz, a survivor of imprisonment. This film is a cinematic representation of an event by the same name: the abduction of nearly a dozen students, mostly from their homes in the middle of the night, on and surrounding September 16, 1976, which was  followed by their clandestine imprisonment, torture, and, generally, execution for involvement with the Unión de Estudiantes Secundarios [Union of High School Students]. These students were not taken to the prisons that were used prior to the dictatorship, but rather were held for up to two years in detention centers that had been built throughout the province of Buenos Aires and were hidden from the argentinean population. Both films depict the incarceration of people who were considered subversive by the governments and how these prison spaces were negotiated.


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