Staging the Spanish Civil War: History and Re-enactment in Joris Ivens’ The Spanish Earth (1937)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article studies how Joris Ivens deployed re-enactment in his Spanish Civil War documentary, The Spanish Earth (1937), relating it to the use of re-enactment by the historian R. G. Collingwood. By examining the historical context and analysing the film and texts by Ivens and Collingwood, I argue that re-enactment is in tension with the ethical responsibilities of documentary vis-à-vis criteria of authenticity. With re-enactment, Ivens inserts fictive elements into documentary even as he remains loyal to a certain ‘truth’ about the war, forging a style that is based on political documentary but which blurs the frontier between performativity and reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalBulletin of Spanish Visual Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Joris Ivens
  • R. G. Collingwood
  • Spanish Civil War
  • The Spanish Earth (1937)
  • authenticity
  • documentary film
  • intermediality
  • re-enactment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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