Catalan Review

THE BATTLE FOR RE-IMAGINING CATALONIA: CINEMATIC POPULISM, MYTH-MAKING, AND CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA (JORDI FRADES, 2018)

Catalan Review (2021), 35, (1), 69–88.

Abstract

In this article, we argue that the TV series event with the highest audience in recent Catalan history, La catedral del mar /Cathedral of the Sea (Jordi Frades, 2018), is an example of commercial cinematic populism. Cathedral of the Sea is built on formal elements of the classic Hollywood style (for example, continuous editing, linear narrative, lack of moral ambiguity), and a series of substantive dichotomies (people/ elite, the popular hero/ the villain, the good/ the bad) and myths (the savior, the unity of the people). In analyzing their significance, we distinguish three hermeneutic layers, the populist, the general-mythical, and the Catalan historical context, which, in combination, constitute the cinematic narrative. Therein the central hero of Cathedral of the Sea, Arnau Estanyol, personifies the myth of the commoner who, by accumulating a whole range of virtues and social roles, synecdochically stands for the triumphant emergence of the modern Catalan people. This narrative is, we maintain, traversed by a tension between the populist call for emancipation, incarnated by Arnau, and the phantasmal self-gratification based on the depiction of a world devoid of complexity.

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Author details

UNGUREANU, CAMIL

PINTOR, IVAN