Cinema Scope

This Dream Will Be Dreamed Again

Luis López Carrasco’s dense, devious El año del descubrimiento confirms his reputation as Spain’s foremost audiovisual chronicler of the country’s recent past, albeit one for whom marginal positions, materiality, everyday chitchat, and the liberating effects of fiction are as, if not more, important than grand historical events. While his miniaturist 2013 debut El futuro forged a fake celluloid time capsule out of a fictional 1982 house party in Madrid, suggesting that the optimism of the recent Socialist election victory would soon be in holes, López Carrasco’s second feature takes a 210-minute plunge into the early ’90s, VHS, and growing disillusionment by way of a neighbourhood bar in south-eastern Spain on a day of violent protest. Categorizing El año del descubrimiento as a period drama may be a considerable stretch, but the film does at least bear one hallmark of the genre: it betrays as much about the era in which it was made as the one it’s depicting, if they can even be told apart.

As the scene-setting intertitles announce, Spain was a country of marked contrasts in 1992: a state seeking to display its newfound modernity via the Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the Expo in Seville on the one hand; a place of breakneck deindustrialization and accompanying job losses on the other, as encapsulated by the violent protests that set fire to the parliament of the Autonomous Community of Murcia in Cartagena on February 3rd. The fact that these two distinct, yet coexisting visions of the nation appear on separate screens within the frame doesn’t just underline this dichotomy, but also acts as a visual premonition of the others to emerge over the course of the film: margin and centre, re-enactment and testimony, newly shot material and archival footage are all placed side by side long enough for the boundaries between them to become helplessly eroded.

In ’s opening stretches, the split screen set-up is primarily used to establish the atmosphere of its carefully chosen setting: an unspectacular café-bar somewhere in a fringe neighbourhood of Cartagena, itself only the second city in Murcia, a region of southern Spain that is hardly known for shaking up the nation. People of all ages and from all walks of life come together in this modest establishment to drink, eat, smoke, and chat. For all their differences, everyone’s anecdotes keep returning to the subject of work, whether the teacher telling of the difficulties of dealing with drug-dealing pupils, the unemployed

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