They find a cassette with unseen footage of the Proclamation of the Second Republic in Madrid

Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2020 7:36 PM

Published on: 10/24/2020 19:29

We are April 14, 1931 in Spain, a day among the many sources that Madrid has passed through. The Puerta del Sol gets very busy from the first hour. Calm reigns and cars continue to circulate normally, but something is causing the environment to vibrate. The guards, mounted on their respective horses, watch in formation any movement around them, but “nothing” happens there. Not even when the first demonstrators appear, breaking with the routine of the central square to celebrate the proclamation of the Second Republic.

Little by little, the Puerta del Sol begins to fill with flags and other symbols announcing a change of regime in Spain. There are those who join this concentration because of the euphoria of the moment; Others, on the other hand, continue to concentrate on their daily tasks, showing no more interest in the political history that is brewing there. Because it is not just any day for Spain, but everything seems to be happening in a climate of serenity. No accusation or violence is observed.

This is how a camera located mainly in one of the windows of the Puerta del Sol captures it. With a sort of discreet gaze, she records from a privileged place the first moments of this change of epoch, with all that that implies: justification and celebration between tranquility and tension. This camera manages to collect 14 minutes of this event; Images already deemed to be of vital importance, because they bear witness to the birth of the Republic in Madrid between April 14 and 15.

More than 89 years later, we can witness these images for the first time. They have not been published and were found by researcher Maddi López de Arkaute, along with Jesse Pierce and Anthony L’Abbate, at the George Eastman Museum in New York. As we have learned, they were part of an information program which, screened in various cinemas in Spain, gave some of the new political airs that shook a country which had just emerged from the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

It was therefore the only way for a population with nearly 40% illiteracy to be aware of what was happening around them. On this occasion, the name of this video or its author is not known, although details have drawn attention, such as the place where it was discovered. “We have no news of how it came to the archives because it is also a film shot in Spanish. It was not made for the Anglo-Saxon market”, explained Josetxo Cerdán, director of the Spanish Cinematheque, in an interview with Televisión Española.

These pictures are of our Altamira bison ”

It is precisely this institution that has managed to get its hands on the strange 16-millimeter copy of the first moments of the Republic in Madrid. After being discovered by the students of the museum’s film collection, they contacted Fimoteca to check if they had a copy of this tape. The surprise was capital: they did not know this documentary. “These images are our Altamira bison. Someone, in the future, will be able to see it much more clearly than we do today,” Jostxo Cerdán added in statements to the EFE agency.

For its conservation in the future, a manual restoration of the tape was carried out and the necessary copies were made for its conservation and future exhibitions. Indeed, since its discovery, the two institutions, the Filmoteca and the George Eastman Museum, have wished to collaborate jointly in the preservation of the film. Everything, with the aim of making this historical content “accessible to the public”. And it won’t be long.

Today, almost a century after its recording, and on the occasion of World Audiovisual Heritage Day, the Spanish Cinematheque will present this film on October 27 at 9:00 p.m. The event will take place at Ciné Doré, and admission will be free until full capacity is reached. You can only reserve a seat online. The event will be attended, among others, by Julián Casanova, professor of contemporary history at the University of Zaragoza, and other documents related to this important stage in the modern history of our country will be screened.

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