Raza: The strange story of Franco’s “lost” film

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Yet Franco’s satisfaction was short-lived. He had started to rewrite history to meet his needs – and over time his needs changed. By the end of the decade, the fascists had lost World War II and Franco’s version of the Civil War had to be rewritten to legitimize its power. So in 1950 Franco censored his own film and destroyed any old copies he could find. The title has become Spirit of una Raza (“Spirit of a race”). All fascist salutes have been cut. The enemy has gone from Republicans, Masons, bourgeois and politicians to simply Communists. And the blows against the United States were suppressed – they would soon become allies of Spain. Now Raza was compatible with the new political contours of the Cold War.

It was a very Orwellian twist. The construction of the Franco myth, of which Raza was only a part, has tarnished the historical records. Even now, more than 40 years after his death, there is no consensus on what the civil war and his dictatorship mean. The few surveys carried out reveal a persistent ambivalence. One of 2008 showed that a majority believed that Francoism had “both good and bad sides”. The same poll showed that the public was opposed to the prosecution of former Franco leaders and lukewarm towards a truth commission charged with attributing responsibility for the civil war. Only a tiny minority now believe in the Raza version of the story, but it may have sowed just enough doubt and confusion to protect its architect’s legacy.

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