THE YELLOW ROSE, MINI HOLLYWOOD
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