The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - MARK PARAS­CAN­DOLA

It might be the ul­ti­mate Amer­i­can film genre, but Hol­ly­wood never had a mo­nop­oly on the western. In the 1960s and 70s both Italy and Spain of­fered their own vi­sions of the Old West; of­ten blood­ier, more sur­real, some­times Marx­ist.

For a while there, Alme­ria in the south of Spain was as much home to the western as John Ford’s Mon­u­ment Val­ley. This was where Ser­gio Leone made his spaghetti westerns. David Lean came here, too, for Lawrence of Ara­bia. Film shoots were en­cour­aged by the Franco regime. There was even talk of a film stu­dio be­ing built in Alme­ria. But it never ma­te­ri­alised and as the 1970s wore on the movie sets were even­tu­ally left to rot. They have now be­come tourist at­trac­tions for those who like a spot of ruin­lust or western-style role play­ing.

They are also now the sub­ject of pho­to­graphs by Mark Paras­can­dola, whose an­ces­tors em­i­grated from the south of Spain in the 1930s. “I be­came fas­ci­nated by these old film sets and lo­ca­tions as a dif­fer­ent kind of ‘ghost town’,” he writes in the af­ter­word of his new book, Once Upon a Time in Alme­ria. “They are a fic­tion, con­structed solely for the movies.” In do­ing so, his images cre­ate their own fic­tions too. Each im­age is it­self a kind of ghost story. A ghost story with six-guns.

Once Upon a Time in Alme­ria by Mark Paras­can­dola is pub­lished by Day­light Books, priced £33.56 © 2017 Mark Paras­can­dola

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