Catalan Review


Catalan Review (2021), 35, (1), 69–88.


In this article, we argue that the TV series event with the highest audience in recent Catalan history, La catedral del mar /Cathedral of the Sea (Jordi Frades, 2018), is an example of commercial cinematic populism. Cathedral of the Sea is built on formal elements of the classic Hollywood style (for example, continuous editing, linear narrative, lack of moral ambiguity), and a series of substantive dichotomies (people/ elite, the popular hero/ the villain, the good/ the bad) and myths (the savior, the unity of the people). In analyzing their significance, we distinguish three hermeneutic layers, the populist, the general-mythical, and the Catalan historical context, which, in combination, constitute the cinematic narrative. Therein the central hero of Cathedral of the Sea, Arnau Estanyol, personifies the myth of the commoner who, by accumulating a whole range of virtues and social roles, synecdochically stands for the triumphant emergence of the modern Catalan people. This narrative is, we maintain, traversed by a tension between the populist call for emancipation, incarnated by Arnau, and the phantasmal self-gratification based on the depiction of a world devoid of complexity.

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Verso, 1991. Google Scholar

Balló, Jordi, and Xavier Pérez. La semilla inmortal. Los argumentos universales en el cine. Anagrama, 2006. Google Scholar

Berardi, Franco. Futurabilità. Nero Editions, 2018. Google Scholar

Berardi, Franco. “Bifo.” Fenomenologia della fine. Nero Editions, 2020. Google Scholar

Bordwell, David, Janet Taiger, and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. Routledge, 2003. Google Scholar

Bottici, Chiara. A Philosophy of Political Myth. Cambridge UP, 2010. Google Scholar

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon Books, 1949. Google Scholar

Català I Roca, Pere. Els castells dels Xiquets de Valls. Valls, sons i músiques de festa. Accessed June 8, 2020. Google Scholar

La catedral del mar. Directed by Jordi Frades. Antena 3, 2018. Google Scholar

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine. Routledge, 1993 Google Scholar

Didi-Huberman, Georges. Peuples exposés, peuples figurants. Minuit, 2012. Google Scholar

Didi-Huberman, Georges. Désirer, désobéir. Minuit, 2019. Google Scholar

Durand, Gilbert. L’Imaginaire. Essai sur les sciences et la philosophie de l’image. Hatier, 1994. Google Scholar

Eliade, Mircea. Myth and Reality. Harper & Row, 1963. Google Scholar

Falcones, Ildefonso. La Catedral del Mar. Grijalbo, 2006. Google Scholar

Falcones, Ildefonso. Cathedral of the Sea, translated by Nick Caistor. Dutton, 2008. Google Scholar

Falcones, Ildefonso. Los herederos de la tierra. Grijalbo, 2016. Google Scholar

Fassin, Eric. Populism. Left and Right. Prickly Paradigm Press, 2018. Google Scholar

Fontana, Josep. La formació d’una identitat. Una història de Catalunya. Erumo, 2014. Google Scholar

Freeman, Matthew, and Renira Rampazzo Gambarato, editors. The Routledge Companion to Transmedia Studies. Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Gamper, Daniel Sachse. “Ambivalences of Populism: The Case of Catalan Independentism.” Social Science Information, vol. 57, no. 4, 2018, pp. 573-587. Google Scholar

Hester, Helen. Xenofeminism. Theory Redux. Polity Press, 2018. Google Scholar

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York UP, 2006. Google Scholar

Jung, Carl-Gustav. Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol. 9. Princeton UP, 1980. Google Scholar

Kinder, Marsha. Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games. U of California P, 1991. Google Scholar

Laclau, Ernesto. On Populist Reason. Verso, 2005. Google Scholar

Lakoff George. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. U of Chicago P, 1996. Google Scholar

Mudde, Cas. Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge UP, 2007. Google Scholar

Müller, Jan-Werner. What is Populism. Penguin, 2017. Google Scholar

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen, vol. 16, no. 3, 1975, pp. 6-18 Google Scholar

Nagel, Klaus. “Der katalanische Unabhängigkeitsprozess: Mit der roadmap in die Sackgasse?” Europa Ethnica, vol. 75, no. 3-4, 2018, pp. 117-127. Google Scholar

Panizza, Francisco, editor. Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. Verso, 2015. Google Scholar

Pintor Iranzo, Ivan. “About the Imaginary.” Formats: Revista de Comunicació Audiovisual, no. 3, 2001. Google Scholar

Pintor Iranzo, Ivan. “Aby Warburg’s Legacy. The Atlas and the Visual Essay.” BRAC, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 156-188. Google Scholar

Pintor Iranzo, Ivan. “Capital of Emotions, Emotions of Capital: Continuity and Iconographic Survivals of the Gestures of Submission and Deprivation of Freedom in Black Mirror.” Millars. Espai i Història, no. 45, 2018, pp. 115-146. Google Scholar

Pintor Iranzo, Ivan. “The Gestures of Hermes: Federico Fellini as an Interpreter and Circulating Agent of Images.” Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, 2020, pp. 83-100. Google Scholar

Pintor Iranzo, Ivan. “Reescrituras políticas del pasado.” Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 2020, pp. 259-283. Google Scholar

Popartan, Alexandra, Camil Ungureanu, Irina Velicu, Maria-Jose Amores, and Manel Poch. “Splitting Urban Waters: The Politicisation of Water in Barcelona between Populism and Anti-populism.” Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, vol. 52, no. 5, 2020, pp. 1-21. Google Scholar

Scolari, Carlos Alberto. “Lostology: Transmedia Storytelling and Expansion/ Compression Strategies.” Semiotica, no. 195, 2013, pp. 45-68. Google Scholar

Scolari, Carlos Alberto. Narrativas Transmedia. Cuando todos los medios cuentan. Deusto, 2013. Google Scholar

Stanley, Ben. “The Thin Ideology of Populism.” Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 13, no. 1, 2008, pp. 95-110. Google Scholar

Tirino, Mario. “Archeologia della transmedialità: teorie, approcci e formati. Il caso Flash Gordon.” Mediascapes Journal, no. 13, 2019, pp. 21-46. Google Scholar

Ungureanu, Camil. Cinema y política: una inmersión rápida, Edicions Tibidabo, 2020. Google Scholar

Ungureanu, Camil, and Alexandra Popartan. “Populism as Narrative, Myth-making, and the “Logic” of Political Emotions.” Journal of the British Academy, no. 8, 2020, pp. 37-43. Google Scholar

Ungureanu, Camil, and Ivan Serrano. “Populismo como relato y la crisis de la democracia representativa.” Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internationals, vol. 119, 2018, pp. 13-33. Google Scholar

Vernant, Jean-Pierre. Mythe et pensée chez les Grecs. Etudes de psychologie historique. Éditions Maspero, 1965. Google Scholar

Vives-Ferrándiz Sánchez, Luis. “Pathos in Catalonia: the Politics of Images in the Era of Memes.” Comparative Cinema, vol. 7, no. 12, 2019, pp. 22-37. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details