The romantic use of flamingos in a Spanish political allegorical film
Alonso Mira, Miguel.
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Not many filmmakers have explored using animals to portray, for example, a political conflict allegorically. George Franju and Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente resorted to animals in their films to criticize the political environment of their time, the Nazi administration of Paris for the former, and the Franco dictatorship for the later. They showed morbid and gruesome scenes of animals being slaughtered to illustrate symbolically the violent atmosphere that impregnated the life of the French and the Spanish citizens in those difficult years. Inspired by their work, I have produced 'Salma: A Wingless Nomad', a film that presents the political conflict of Western Sahara through the fictional story of a young Sahrawi refugee whose only way of connecting with reality and the memories of her childhood is through the images of flamingos. For her, flamingos incarnate the freedom her people lost when, consecutively, Spain and Morocco invaded them. They also represent the nomadic tradition of her ancestors, a way of life that she romanticizes as the true identity of the Sahrawis. In this essay, I compare my film with the work of Franju and Rodríguez de la Fuente, providing an analysis on how I built the allegory around the natural history of flamingos. I conclude by saying that even though Franju's and Rodríguez de la Fuente's morbid use of 'mise en scene' was effective to depict the violence of the Nazi and the Falangist regimes, my film took a different approach; one that would romantically reveal the reason why the Sahrawis suffered, which wasn't violence or death, but the lack of freedom.