Call to Arms: A Civil War Tale of Trauma, Tragedy, Triumph and True Love

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And so, when Captain America Comics No. I ought to tan your hide! With bizarre abruptness, Steve opts for comradeship over corporal punishment. For the next few years, they took on all who would threaten the Republic, especially the domestic boogeymen of Nazi spy rings and dangerous fifth columnists. Bucky was relentlessly optimistic, only pushing back against his older-brother figure when he felt condescended to. The comics were runaway hits for their publisher, Timely. But the first superhero bubble popped after the end of the war. Other genres usurped it: crime fiction, Westerns, and horror.

Captain America Comics ceased publication in There was an extremely short-lived attempt to revive Cap and Bucky as anti-communist crusaders in , but it, too, failed to find an audience. Bucky and his beloved mentor were unceremoniously tossed on the trash heap of pulp history. At the very least, people would start to talk. When it came to Bucky, that philosophy had major consequences. Issue four featured a startling cover image: Captain America leaping into battle alongside the previously introduced Avengers.

Look out! As we learn in a flashback, tragedy struck during the war: Bucky was blown up while trying to stop a booby-trapped plane in midair, and Cap — attempting to save him — fell into the frigid water, where he froze in suspended animation, only to later wake up in a world where his best chum was long gone. And nothing on Earth can change that! Throughout the ensuing decades there were still stories starring Bucky, but they were strictly World War II flashbacks.

His earnest enthusiasm served as a reminder about Greatest Generation optimism and certainty of purpose — thus making him a relic in an era where the Vietnam War was shattering American confidence in military might.

Call Arms Civil War Tale Trauma Tragedy Triumph True Love Kind Dynamic Story Mel

Occasionally, young characters would try to become new Buckies, to no lasting avail. No one must ever wear it! In other words, though Bucky was gone, his memory lingered. But any attempt to revive him in the present day was an axiomatic no-no. Around the turn of the millennium, a new guard was in charge, and they were willing to engage in the heretical dark art of resurrection. Ever since he was a kid, comics writer Ed Brubaker felt like Bucky was the victim of a great injustice. Then he learned the death was tossed off in a single page of The Avengers No. If Bucky had been killed without much ceremony, he felt a nice corrective would be to resurrect him and let him have his day.

One solution? Mix him up in some Cold War intrigue. Flash forward to the early s. Marvel Comics was in a chaotic renaissance.


New writing talent with limited superhero experience was being brought in all the time. Against this backdrop, in , Brubaker — previously best known for writing crime stories — was recruited to write a relaunched Captain America monthly series alongside penciler Steve Epting. Lucky for him, the notion of reviving Bucky was already kicking around in the innovation-hungry ecosystem of early-aughts Marvel, though not everyone was onboard.

How did he survive that explosion on the little plane, Brevoort asked? Brevoort recalls asking 14 queries in total, forcing Brubaker to tighten up his approach. In , Thomas Paine published the first installment in a series of pamphlets called The American Crisis. A young John Kerry spoke there, giving an incendiary testimony about what America was doing to its drafted men. This sentiment would lie at the core of what Brubaker was going to try to talk about with Bucky.

The resulting story, launched on November 17, , was a cracking espionage yarn. A government agent theorizes they might all be coming from a Cold War—era Russian assassin only known as the Winter Soldier.

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Meanwhile, Cap reminisces about World War II, and his reveries include a shocking revelation about Bucky: Although the boy was held up to the public as a symbol of youthful pride in America, he was secretly sent out to viciously execute enemy soldiers as an advance scout during attacks. He was a weapon as much as he was a mascot. Brubaker — the son of a soldier — made that storytelling choice as a corrective to the sanitized version of the war that so often appears in superhero comics.

Then came May 25, , the day when issue No. He had a bionic arm with a Communist red star on it — Brubaker and Epting were tapping into the tradition of comic-book pseudoscience. And, lest we forget that he was still Bucky at his core, he had that classic little domino mask on. A reinvented icon had arrived. That latter scene is agonizing for Cap. Cap grits his teeth and, in a debriefing, smashes a computer screen in anguish. The whole endeavor was a hit. The issue with the Bucky reveal went to a second printing, and sales for the ensuing issues were robust.

This is another way that fantasy parallels reality within the film, and another reminder that even when an individual tries to forget a trauma by retreating into fantasy, its effects still remain. The creature sits at the head of a long table overflowing with food, yet he appears emaciated and starved, his sickly skin hanging flaccidly off his bones Fig.

It is a tableau that mirrors the dinner scene that took place earlier in the film, with Captain Vidal hosting members of the church and the upper class, and laying out his vision for the future of Spain Smith, Thus, the parallel between the monster and the fascist forces is made explicit. However, the creature is also being used as a way of implicating the church in the rise of the fascists. Aside from a downturned mouth that makes the creature appear as though he is constantly frowning, as if he is in a perpetual state of disapproval, the Pale Man has no face.

Instead, a pair of eyes sits on a plate before him. When the creature awakes, it is revealed that he has stigmata on his hands, and that it places the eyes in these holes in order to see. The combination of the eyeless face with the stigmata on the hands seems to imply that the creature is meant to stand in for the church, who became complicit in the rise of the fascists when they turned a blind eye to the conflict and sided with Franco and his forces. This becomes another way in which the fantasy realm comments upon the real world, and another way in which del Toro explores the trauma of the conflict through the lens of the fantastic.

Ofelia soon learns that it is not food the Pale Man desires to eat, but children. In this way, the creature comes to represent the leaders on both sides of the war, old men who sent countless young men and women, boys and girls to their deaths Fig. Thus, del Toro is invoking the specter of yet another war, and illustrating how fantasy may allow individuals a temporary escape from the memory of trauma, but it cannot protect them from it entirely.

In addition to this, the faun describes the Pale Man as inhuman, and this draws a link to the inhumanity of war in general. More specifically, however, del Toro is using the Pale Man as a way of implicating General Francisco Franco as a murderer of children and young men, and this is another way that he is using fantasy to explore the traumatic events of war. However, Franco is not the only power-hungry man who has sent children and young people off to war, and therefore it could be argued that del Toro is using the film as a way of condemning all war, while simultaneously emphasizing the need to remember malicious dictators like Franco in order to prevent another one from taking his place.

Thus, just as Ofelia lost her sense of autonomy under the rule of her wicked stepfather, Spain also suffered a loss of autonomy during the rule of the fascists Clark and McDonald, Del Toro goes on to explain that during the s, Spain found the courage to resist the fascist dictatorship, and this newly found sense of rebellion and self-expression was not unlike that of the United States in the s Kermode, This would indicate that Spain reached an age of independence, not unlike a teenager who reaches a certain age and suddenly desires independence from his or her parents.

Thus, the link between childhood and nationhood becomes another way for del Toro to explore the trauma of the civil war and its aftermath. Furthermore, by exploring this trauma through the lens of childhood, del Toro is also placing emphasis on the act of examining trauma through fantasy. Often, adults will tell children stories as a way of protecting them from the horrors of the real world. However, Ofelia is unable to escape from the trauma no matter how much she wishes she could, and this in turn is commentary on the need to shield children from trauma as a way of protecting them.

Ofelia liberates her newborn baby brother from the clutches of Captain Vidal, an act which symbolizes the need for Spain to experience a rebirth through the act of liberation. Captain Vidal chases Ofelia into the labyrinth, where he shoots her and leaves her to die as the film returns to the shot from the beginning of the film, only this time it is running forward.

As Captain Vidal emerges from the labyrinth carrying the baby, he is confronted by the rebels, who take the baby and then kill the cruel captain Fig. This would seem to imply that the rebels were victorious, and that everyone would live happily ever after in true Hollywood fashion. If this is the case, then her fate is similar to that of the rebels and of Spain itself; she may have escaped the tyranny of Captain Vidal, but they have not escaped the rule of the fascists. This is yet another way that del Toro addresses the trauma of the Spanish Civil War, and the oppression of the three decades that followed it.

Most importantly, though, Ofelia represents the future. She represents the generation who grew up under the tyranny of the fascist regime, but also the generation who would someday rise up and throw off the yoke of oppression.

While Ofelia dies in the real world, she nevertheless returns to the underground kingdom of her mother and father, and resumes her role as a princess. It is a triumphant scene, with the citizens of the underground kingdom applauding and cheering for her, as the benevolent king and queen, her father and mother, gaze down at her with love and affection. So while her story ends tragically in the real world, with her lying dead and the fascists continuing their rise to power, it nevertheless concludes with a happy ending in the fantasy realm. In one sense, this could be del Toro acknowledging the fact that the rebels ultimately lost their struggle, and that Spain would fall under the oppression of the fascists for the next 30 years.

At the same time, though, the fascist regime would eventually fall, and Spain would regain its identity as a free nation Hartney, There is an idea of death and rebirth in both the fantasy realm and the real world. Ofelia must die in order to be reborn as the immortal princess of the fantasy realm. In both cases, the idea of memory looms large. Ofelia forgot that she was once an immortal princess from an underground realm, just as Spain tried to forget the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, the trauma that led to the nation falling under the tyranny of fascism. In each case, it led to an eventual rebirth, but it was only through the painful act of remembrance that both Ofelia and Spain were able to achieve this rebirth.

Thus, the film is once again illustrating the need to remember in the face of trauma, even when retreating to a fantasy realm seems preferable. It is painful to remember, especially in the face of events that had such a far-reaching and long-lasting impact as did the Spanish Civil War. However, as Guillermo del Toro illustrates, it is important to remember, because even when an individual tries to forget, the event still occurred and the memories continue to linger.

Thus, by using fantastic elements such as ghosts and fairy tale kingdoms to serve as literal stand-ins for the memories of trauma, del Toro reinforces the idea that people cannot escape the past, no matter how hard they try. He also illustrates the need to keep these memories fresh as a way of preventing similar traumas.

Just as Ofelia forgot her mortal life when she reentered the kingdom of her father, she nevertheless died in the real world, and the rebels found themselves under the oppressive rule of General Francisco Franco and the forces of fascism. Thus, although they tried to forget the traumatic events of the civil war that happened only five years prior, the people of Spain still found themselves living under oppression for the next 30 years.

Perhaps, had they remembered what was at stake, they might not have suffered such a fate. This is why it is important to remember, no matter how painful those memories might be. Brinks, E. Jac , 24 2 , Chun, K. Cineaste , 27 2 , Clark, R. Children , 41 , Hanley, J. The walls fall down: Fantasy and power in El laberinto del fauno. Studies in Hispanic Cinemas , 4 1 , Hartney, C. History Learning Site. Timeline of the Spanish civil war.

Exploring the Trauma of the Spanish Civil War at the Intersection of Fantasy and Reality

The transnational reception of El espinazo del diablo Guillermo del Toro Hispanic Research Journal , 8 1 , Narine, N. Global trauma and narrative cinema. Theory Culture Society , 27 4 , Payne, S.

Call to Arms: Minnesota Steps Forward - 1861

Regional historiography of the Spanish Civil War. European History Quarterly , 24 , Raychaudhuri, A. Smith, P. Film Quarterly , 60 4 , Zipes, J. Journal of American Folklore , , I am writing an essay on Spanish cinema and was wondering if I could possibly reference and cite parts of your post in my essay. If not I understand. Hi, Could I please reference your blog. I am writing an essay about the fairy tale and the process of forgetting with reference to the pacto de olvido.

You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. Casares is emblematic of the conflict that rages outside the walls of the orphanage. Casares serves to highlight the fact that even though Republican loyalists tried to prevent the spread of fascism, they were nevertheless unable to protect Spanish citizens from the trauma of the civil war.

Casares, who intones: What is a ghost? Thus, they are similar to photographs of the Spanish Civil War right , in that they are representations of a national trauma that occurred in the past. This creates an intertextual link between the films, and implies that the boys are unable to truly escape from the trauma of war. This would indicate that the rebels are triumphant, however historical reality indicates that this was only a temporary victory.

Works Cited Brinks, E. Girl interrupted. Heart of the Forest. The Last Circus. Del Toro, G. Fassbinder, R. The Marriage of Maria Braun. Hou, H. A City of Sadness. Puenzo, L. The Official Story.

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Like this: Like Loading Pingback: The best films of Seems Obvious to Me. Hello, I am writing an essay on Spanish cinema and was wondering if I could possibly reference and cite parts of your post in my essay. Many Thanks. You are more than welcome to reference this post! Best of luck with your essay! You are welcome. Hi Chris Please could I reference your essay for my masters thesis? Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.

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