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Aguaespejo granadino

English Title: Aguaespejo granadino


Original Title: (aka La gran siguiriya)
Country of Origin: Spain
Director: Jos Val del Omar
Screenplay: Jos Val del Omar
Cinematographer: Jos Val del Omar
Art Director: Jos Val del Omar, Jos
Val del Omar
Runtime: 23 minutes
Genre: Experimental Documentary
Language: Spanish
Year: 1953-1955
Volume: Spanish / Portuguese
Synopsis:
The film shows different views of Granada reflected in a mirror of water, as expressed
in the term aguaespejo (Water-mirror). The landscapes of the Sacromonte, the
Alhambra and the Generalife follow one another at different moments of the day. The
water of the fountains and jets and the stone of the landmarks alternate with the image
of the gypsies who are depicted as a telluric strength. These gypsies faces show the
ecstasy brought by the night when the moon rises. Then the images turn green,
evoking mystery. The poetic voice-over finishes with an appeal: Pero que ciegas son
las criaturas que se apoyan en el suelo, Dios, Dios, Amor, que ciegas, estando t tan
abierto (How blind are the creatures that lean on the floor, God, God! Love, so blind,
whereas you are so open).

Critique:
Aguaespejo granadino (Water-mirror from Granada) is one of the titles of Jos Val del
Omars trilogy Trptico elemental de Espaa. This trilogy also consists of Fuego en
Castilla, filmed in Valladolid between 1957 and 1960, and De Barro Acario
galaico, on which he worked between 1961 and 1967, although he did not actually
finish it.
He is an unclassifiable artist that met the cream of the artistic avant-garde while in
France in 1921. Afterwards, Val del Omar took part in the governments educational
policy of the Second Spanish Republic between 1932 and 1935, when he went all over
Spain with the Pedagogical Missions. The result was some forty documentaries
almost all of them were lost and thousands of photographs. During Francos
repressive era, he advocated including technical innovation, formal heterodoxy and a
poetic voice into the aforementioned filmography.
Aguaespejo granadino must be placed in this context. It is a polyhedral script. The
analogies between the shapes in the film and an editing that uses the music to set the
rhythm have a lot to do with the European film avant-garde. However the film
approach is very close to the Spanish Generation of 27 because of its thematic
references, such as the gypsies, also important in Lorcas work, or the significance of

flamenco music to the soundtrack, that is present, for example in the alternative title of
the film, La gran siguiriya, that refers to the seguidilla, a popular Andalusian dance
and music. The use of Noche en los jardines de Espaa by Manuel de Falla also
associates this film with the cultural universe prior to the Spanish Civil War.
The narrative structure of Aguaespejo granadino depends to a large extent on the use
of different technical innovations developed by Val del Omar himself: the acceleration
and deceleration of images; the use of colour filters that give, for example, a green
shade to one of the most intense passages of the documentary; and the use of timelapse photography. All these technical innovations are elements at the service of a
global vision. The most outstanding technical innovation is an approach that
anticipates the modern sound design: in a time when synthesizers did not yet exist, the
author was able to process up to 500 sounds by using the diaphonic-system technology
that he invented. Images and, above all, sound try to stimulate the audience with a
clearly thoughtful purpose. Val del Omar elaborated this approach long before
reflexive documentaries were a reality by the end of the 1960s.
Furthermore, a poetic voice provides the narration with a symbolic unity. For
example, during the last few minutes, over a long shot with long depth of field of the
Fountain of the Lions in the Alhambra, the voice-over states: Aguaespejo de la vida.
Subir, subir y subir (Aguaespejo of life. Rise, rise and rise). Then, it moves onto an
extreme close-up of one of the jets of the fountain. The camera rises in a panoramic
position until it leans on a low shot. And then, by cutting out, it shows a general view
of the Alhambra using light pulsations to photograph it. The mystic sense of the
narration becomes a reality through this voice-over.
The film Aguaespejo granadino shows that Jos Val del Omar became a director at the
wrong moment in Film History, as the first interwar artistic avant-garde had already
finished and the 1960s and 1970s artistic movements had not yet begun. His work is
a unique combination of art and documentary.