Cinema and the Leisure Class
Gonzalo de Pedro and Chema González
Ronda de Atocha, on the corner with plaza del Emperador Carlos V
2,50€ single ticket/ 3 tickets voucher: 5€ , on sale at the Museo Ticket Office from one day before each session. The Nouvel Building Ticket Office will be open until five minutes before the start of the session.
The open-air cinema is closely linked to summer holidays: a space and time where the working class is freed from work obligations and where the chance for enjoyment and leisure presents itself. Setting out from the concurrence between Thorstein Veblen’s book The Theory of the Leisure Class, published in 1899, and the birth of cinema via Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory, the Lumière brothers’ 1895 film, this series, screened on the outdoor terraces of the Museo, offers a journey through the history of the medium, focusing on its relationship with the conception of holidaying, leisure, travel and tourism, through which a whole range of ideas and questions that surface at this intersection are analysed. In other words: the consolidation of a working class freed from work and embodied in the display of social status; the working-class conquest of paid holidays, with the subsequent division between work and unproductive time; or the ensuing appearance of mass tourism at the heart of the social, cultural, economic and even landscape transformations that gave rise to the appearance of the subject-tourist, motivated by the desire to seek different but at the same time identical and uniform experiences. The working-class dream of a permanent vacation, aspiration or condemnation?
La Sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon [Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, 3rd version], 1895.
Original version, b/w, 42’
À propos de Nice [Apropos of Nice], 1930
Original version, b/w, 23’
Manoel de Oliveira
Nice: À propos de Jean Vigo [Nice: Apropos of Jean Vigo], 1983
Original version, color, 58’
The tension and progressive contamination between leisure and work appeared in the founding images of film: La Sortie de l'usine Lumière constitutes theatrical expression, whereby workers stage a fictitious working day on their day off. Vigo approached this quandary by revealing the social and class implications – using the holiday city of Nice, he traced an ill-tempered critique of the new leisure class: the tourist. Fifty-three years on, and as an homage, de Oliveira returned to Nice to add new realities to this complex binomial.
Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot [Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday], 1953
Original version, b/w, 95’
By way of his on-screen alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, Tati conveys the pretence and paradoxes in the new tourist class that emerged after the legal acknowledgement of paid holidays. Tourism is presented as machine-like and automated fun i.e. a job: having fun and showing it verifies that the promise held at the beginning of the holiday is seen through.
Il sorpasso [The Easy Life], 1962
Original Version, b/w, 105’
Shot during the years of “economic miracle” in Italy, Il sorpasso tells the frenetic story of two seemingly incompatible characters on a madcap trip at the height of the summer holiday season. A timid law student and a hedonistic scrounger, reflections of social dilemmas in Italy, aimlessly travel the country in style.
Original version, color, 105’
Filmed a year before May ‘68, Week-end is a type of premonition with which Godard captured the end of an era. The film provides an acerbic description of the nascent consumer society via one of its most prized objects: the car, a symbol of the status, social class, climbing and influence of a whole economic and political system.
La piel quemada (Burnt Skin), 1967
Original version, b/w, 110’
To whom does burnt skin belong? Who is burnt by the sun? Setting out from these questions, Forn focuses on the location of Lloret de Mar, a town undergoing major transformation with the development of tourism. In this town the needs and desires of immigrants, predominantly from Andalusia, are accommodated as they seek employment; the new tourist class and the locals, all under the same blazing sun.
Acknowledgements: Filmoteca de Catalunya (Catalonia Film Institute).
The Swimmer, 1968
Original version, color, 95’
Adapted from John Cheever’s short story under the same name, The Swimmer portrays the disillusionment, cynicism and decay of the middle and upper class. One day, at the end of summer, Merrill decides to return home by swimming through all the pools in the neighbourhood, thus creating a fictitious river that will progressively take him further away from his goal and the idea of home, and in the process question something deeper: the American dream.
Permanent Vacation, 1980
Original version, color, 76’
The title of the New York director’s first film refers to the slangy and sarcastic sense of the term layoffs, or collective dismissals. The “vacation” in the title does not allude to free time but rather the time spent over the course of a day by an urban bohemian, a new kind of forced leisure class that becomes alienated in a de-industrialised urban space and finds it impossible to communicate with one another and with the world they have been thrown out of.
O território [The Territory], 1981
Original version, color, 104’
From a ritualistic and perverse perspective, O território addresses the unavoidable relationship that exists between tourism and cannibalism, between civilisation and brutality. It is the extreme side of a self-cannibalising tourism, an allegorical display of the tourist finding it impossible to explore and get to know the limits of the territory they are visiting and which, on occasions, proves too much for them.
Cannibal Tours, 1988
Original version, color, 67’
“There’s nothing so strange, in a strange land, as the stranger who comes to visit it” is the quote that opens this film, which is shot during an excursion to an island inhabited by an ancient tribe of cannibals who are now caught up in producing handicrafts for tourists. This is a key landmark for understanding the complex web on which the tourist industry is built and based, feeding off and nurtured by the desire to discover something original, hidden and paradisiacal.
Verano [Summer], 2011
Original version, color, 95’
An homage to intimate and family holiday films, where distraction gradually becomes a yearning for lost time. The director turns “amateurism” and improvisation into an experimental cinematic reflection; shot in 16 and 35 mm film, the film-maker projects the movie onto a wall and films it again. The recording is the final result: falling between the simplicity of Eric Rohmer and the complexity of experimental cinema.
Loubia Hamra [Bloody Beans], 2013
Original version, color, 77’
Presentation by the director of the film together with Elena Oroz
Made in Algeria as the country celebrates fifty years of independence, Loubia Hamra approaches another of the seductive images of summer by definition: the beach. Yet it does so by subverting Western iconography as a symbolic place of rest, exploring it as a space crossed by the trauma of recent history.
Sueñan los androides [Androids Dream], 2014
VO, color, 61’
Set in the futuristic apex of Spanish developmentalism, in Benidorm in 2052, and shot across three Octobers between 2010 and 2014, in this film the ideas that intersect the series are upheld: the transformation and annihilation of space, the influence of the subject-tourist in the territory, the undercurrent of speculation as a driving force of seasonal cities and the world as a huge stage for global tourists, condemned to live without either work or rest. A grotesque, deformed and ascetic version of a devastated present: post-crisis Spain.