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Spain’s ‘new cinema’ of the 1990s

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Alongside Alejandro Amenábar’s Los otros/The Others (2001), Santiago Segura’s Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley/Torrente, the stupid arm of the law (1998) was one of the most spectacular commercial successes in Spain’s entire film history. In an age of increasing American international hegemony (punctuated by recent remake fever and the success of Spiderman (Raimi, 2002) and now Hulk (Lee, 2003)), how do relatively marginal national cinemas survive and compete? More to the point, how do we account for Torrente’s incredible national success, given that the main protagonist is a grotesque, parodic inversion of the American-cop super hero. This essay offers no definitive answers, rather a series of working hypotheses and pathways which deal with the film in relation to issues of genre, parody, the grotesque, excess and ‘paracinema’.

Keywords: Santiago Segura; Spanish cinema; excess; genre; paracinema; parody; the grotesque

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: De Montfort University, UK

Publication date: March 3, 2003

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.  
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