Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Paul Julian Smith

Committee Members

Isolina Ballesteros

Silvia Dapía

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Latin American Languages and Societies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature


This dissertation explores the ways in which recent (1999–2017) films and television series ask today’s spectators to witness the 20th-century Spanish and Argentine dictatorships by analyzing these texts on both a narrative and technical level. I examine torture in the Argentine films Garage Olimpo (Marco Bechis, 1999), Crónica de una fuga (Andrés Caetano, 2006), and, from Spain, La voz dormida (Benito Zambrano, 2011). I also investigate the theme of disappearance as seen in two Spain-Argentina joint ventures, Pasaje de vida (Diego Corsini, 2015) and Los pasos perdidos (Manane Rodríguez, 2001), both of which portray how parental absence affects the children of the Argentine “disappeared” living in exile in Spain. I then assess how the relationship between sound and image appears as an unresolved tension in El secreto de sus ojos (Juan José Campanella, 2009) from Argentina and La isla mínima (Alberto Rodríguez, 2014) from Spain, as well as how these films appeal to spectators’ senses beyond vision and hearing. Finally, I determine how today’s viewers experience the past via current television dramas in the long-running Spanish series Cuéntame cómo pasó (Miguel Ángel Bernardeau, 2001–present) as well as in its Argentine adaptation (Patricia Moser and Gustavo Villamagna, 2017). I demonstrate how torture, disappearance, sensorial perception, and television correspond with four elements of spectatorship theory (masochism, suture, embodied spectatorship, and meta-witnessing) to provide a holistic viewing experience that appeals to mind and body, thereby overcoming the distancing effects of time and representation.