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The aim of this report is to research on the art of Bullfighting and the political as well as personal views on the sport. This information would help the narrative of the animation of Kate Ruse poem “Corrida De Toros” Analytical research was carried out to determine the percentage of people for and against Bullfighting, as well as the deaths of the cast of the event. The report concludes with the use of the information gained to create a successful animation.
Bullfighting (Corrida de toros) is a sport popular in countries such as Portugal, Span and some Hispanic America countries. In which one or multiple bulls are teased, taunted and then killed in the arena for the audience’s entertainment. Although a sport involving torture and gore, some people that follow the act prefer to refer to it as a “fine art” and not a sport (Fiske-Harrison, 2011), as there aren’t any competitive elements in the act.
Bullfighting consists of a cast of professionals called toreros who execute an act which is different depending on the style or school the torero was taught at. It’s said that the toreros perform moves so that they can create an emotional connection with the crowd transmitted through the bull. These moves are performed at a close range only after the bull has been worn out and depleted of strength from being penetrated by short spears and lances. Being close to the bull puts the bullfighter at risk of being trampled and gored by the bull. After the bull has been stabbed many times behind the shoulder by matadors in the ring, the bullfight will end with the killing of the bull by one lone sword thrust, which is named estocada. In Portugal killing the bull is illegal so they finish the act by committing a tradition called pega where the toreros try to grab the bull by its horns when it rushes at them. The bull is then either professionally killed or released back to its owner’s fields. There are many people inside and out of the countries that perform the tradition who are against it. A petition signed by over half a million people, looks to have bullfighting classed as a benefit of cultural interest. This would allow them to flout a ban appointed by authorities in the eastern region of Catalonia, Spain (Usama, 2013).
The purpose of this report is to understand the tradition of bullfighting and transfer the knowledge into animating the poem “Corrida de toros” created by Kate Ruse. By fully understanding bullfighting, creating a narrative and visuals as well as portraying Kate’s feelings towards the act would be a simple task. A lot of research would have had to be done because of the origin of the poem. Corrida de toros is about Spanish bullfighting which is foreign to the animators. To gain full control over the subject the animators will need to dive deep into the origin and history of bullfighting. The main point that needs to come across in the storyline of the poem is how dramatic and ethnically terrible bullfighting is, as the poem is showing emotions against bullfighting the animators need to be able to display to the viewers the negatives of killing bulls for entertainment. These objectives are significant because they will help produce an emotional driven animation.
The history of bullfighting and why people perform it
Peoples views and opinion on bullfighting
How has the research done affected the animation and narrative?
The first research objective is to find out about the history of bullfighting and why people perform and watch it. Understanding why people gain excitement and enjoyment from watching an animal get slaughtered will help fathom the concept of the sport.
The next objective is to gather people’s views and opinions on bullfighting. There are millions of people against the sport in especially in the countries that engage in them. The task is to also find out why it has not been banned in these countries.
The third objective is to explain how all the research has helped develop the narrative and animation. Expressing individual feelings gained from the research, towards the sport as well as Kate Ruse’s original emotions through the art of animation.
2. Literature Review
Before even starting on character designs and animations the artists had to come up with a narration. First doing it blindly the narration consisted of a vast amount of gore where there would be one human who was portrayed as the villains and the bull the victim. The story had no depth and was completely one sided. After doing extensive research on bullfighting they were able to gain the knowledge that there is a full cast of people involved in bullfighting (Fiske-Harrison, 2011). Using this new information the artists adapted the narration including the extra cast. “The term torero encompasses all who fight the bull in the ring” (Usama, 2013) the name of the cast in the arena was also brought to light as before they thought the main bullfighter was called a “Matador” but only the most senior is given that name. Knowing why the “Toreros” killed bulls for sport was also knowledge needing to be gained. This information would act upon the narrative drastically and even enable the animators to transfer their own emotions into the story. Looking through many interviews with different bullfighters they all had different reasons. Some did it for money, some saw it as their only way, “The adrenaline rush, the danger, the triumph, that’s what it takes to become a man.” (VICE, 2014) that was Álvaro Múnera’s reason.
From reading a multitude of books and articles on bullfighting more understanding transferred. The storyline for the poem adapted to the information gained. “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honour." (Hemingway, 1994) The first thought of bullfighting after being introduced as a new form would bring negative emotion as it consists of the slaughter of an animal. After reading this sentence the words brought light showing that bullfighting is an art form where not only the bull but also the human is in danger of death. Siding with one party would be difficult after coming across this. Through this new information the animators altered the original story from being one sided to allow somewhat of emotion, although limited to side with the killers of the bull.
Without doing all that research the animators would have gone into the animation blindly producing something that had no depth or real fact. The storyline would have been bland and a viewer that had any understanding of bullfighting would be able to pick apart the animation which was partially supposed to be informing the viewer of the negatives of bullfighting.
This research is necessary because it will enable political correctness and clarity of narration for the animation that would be easily recognized by someone who has prior knowledge of bullfighting. Since this is a topic that is foreign to this nation, it is pivotal that the animation’s depiction is accurate. It would be especially problematic if the animation had an impact on its viewers that was uncharacteristic of the art form of Bullfighting.
The main source of information came from the careful research of online articles acquired from retired bullfighters and experts in the field. Their real-life experiences acted as perfect inspiration for the sequences depicted in the animation. Archival research methodology was employed to gather this information. The reasons for this strategic decision were the reduction in opportunity for biases (since the articles were not written for the sake of this research), as well as the reliability of the accounts given that they were created by people who were present in observing the events depicted. The remaining data for this research was documentary. Archival research can be ineffective if data is skewed or mistranslated as a result of cultural understandings changing throughout time.
4. Ethical Issues
Seeking information on the narrative did raise minor concerns. Conflicting viewpoints between the two animators lead to settlements about how bullfighting should be depicted. While one animator found the prospect to be horrid and unconscionable, the other could grasp the sport to a degree. This made the creation of an animation defending one view of the sport considerably more difficult. One of the animators found the statement, “A bullfighter never thinks about his own death,” (Schneider, 2007) surprising after seeing it in an article. It was their original belief that the fear of death would be the inspiration to remain alive while facing the dangers of the arena. The other animator seemed to comprehend the idea that remaining calm was vital to the sporting aspect of the bullfight. As in many sports, performance can depend on constant level-headedness. Both animators were aware that their opinions on the topic would have an impact on the outcome of the animation.
Bullfights generally contain three distinct segments. The first segment consists of the bull being led by force into the arena. Here, the bull is taunted with a cape by a matador. (Porter and Prince, 2009) Next, picadors confront the bull, driving lances into the bull’s back and neck to hinder the bull’s attempts at lifting its head. The lances are twisted and gouged, which causes a notable amount of blood loss. (Lowe, 2010) Banderilleros then come to divert the bulls attention by moving around it and stabbing it with colourful darts called banderillas. (Porter and Prince, 2009) After the loss of blood has made the bull weak enough, the banderilleros begin to run the bull in circles until it cannot continue to chase due to exhaustion and dizziness. The final act features the return of the matador. He uses his sword and cape to induce a few fatigued charges from the dying bull. These passes are referred to as the “faena.” After this, the matador attempts to deliver the death blow, called the “estocada,” with his sword. (Venezia, 2010) If his blow fails, despite survival after further mutilating of the bull, an executioner is brought in to stab the bull death. If the crowd is pleased with the matador, then the matador is presented with the ears and tails (or hooves, in some cases) as a trophy. (Porter and Prince, 2009)
After a few moments, another bull is lead into the arena so that the painful sequence may repeat itself.
The research conducted on the topic finds that bullfighting can be viewed in a myriad of ways and that people are entitled to many opinions of it. There are those who support it as an art form as well as there are those who detest it and see it as an atrocity to torture and kill an innocent animal. The meaning behind the words of the poem aided greatly in choosing how the animation would be depicted. Finding facts during research proved difficult as most information on the subject is compiled in the opinions and debates of those who wish to morally condemn or justify it. Despite this, factual information was still obtained and used for the process of animating. Because of the controversial nature of the topic, a viewpoint had to be chosen and displayed visually in the narrative in order to defend the meaning of the poem. Findings also included data on the interest level of Spanish bullfighting. It was found in the results of a poll that only 29% of people in Spain approve of bullfighting (Humane Society International, 2013) A 2007 Gallup poll showed that over 72% don’t even have an interest in the sport and 71 towns and cities in Catalonia (including even Barcelona) have made statements of opposition toward bullfighting. (Wspa.org.uk, 2014)
Every year, around 10,000 bulls die as a result of these fights. Fighting could even be seen as an inadequate term for the sequence that occurs in the arena. There is little to competition, since the matador (Spanish for “killer”) is a nimble, armed man while the bull is a confused, injured, psychologically harmed and often physically disabled animal (Alex Duff, 2006). According to one particular matador, there are top performers who may “ask breeders to deliberately select placid bulls…it’s the only way to sustain your energy for the duration of the season.” (Leslie Crawford, 2005)
In the last 50 years, very few matadors have died in the arenas of Spain, although there have been many cases of injuries. Since records began being kept in 1922, only 16 runners have died during the encierro in Pamplona. Despite the fact that nearly every matador will be injured every year they perform, deaths are remarkably uncommon. Having more than one or two fatalities in a year seems to be a rarity in professional bullfights. Amateur events involving immature fighters can be a completely different story. Only around 50 fatalities have been recorded since the modern form of bullfighting was established in 1726. Only professional matadors are counted in this, ignoring other toreros or amateurs killed at bullfighting events. (Answers.com, 2014)
Stopbullfighting.org.uk states that not only humans and bulls are killed in the arena. Horses die slow and painful deaths after being gored by bulls who lash out in pain. Hundreds of horses have fallen victim to this occurrence. These horses’ ears are filled with wet newspaper, their vocal chords are cut to silence their screams and they are blindfolded. It is not uncommon to find that a horse has walked through its own entrails after a harsh goring. Once a horse has been wounded, it is led out of the ring, given a crude excuse for surgery and then sent back into the arena. Horses used in bullrings often sweat and tremble from fear once they are led in. They are forced to enter the ring time after time, often risking their lives for the sake of the bullfight. The picador’s horses are usually horses that have been retired from lives of labour. These horses are old, infirm and timid. Their reward for serving mankind in an unhesitant fashion is to have their lives come to abrupt ends in bullfighting arenas. They are kept in loathsome conditions between fights. It is no surprise that the life expectancy of such horses can be very short. (Stopbullfighting.org.uk, 2014)
Given this information, it is difficult to comprehend why the sport has maintained such popularity, never mind managing to not be banned.
The aim of this research was to understand the poem and the sport of Bullfighting so we could get ideas of how the narrative for the animation would be. From the research undertaken the narrative became clear and the representation of the poem was decided. The decision to take an anti-Bullfighting approach was made, and actions to bring the viewer to the side of the bull was taken. Using the information gained from multiple sources politically correct animation was able to be accomplished as well as bringing the creators emotion and the emotion from previous bullfighters and anti-bullfighting members.
The findings about how many bullfighters were useful as it allowed the animators to not cross any negative boundaries, such as allowing multiple bullfighters to die in the animation as well as the amount of bulls killed in the sport. Understanding that there were multiple horses in the event was also helpful as this is a big part and the animators did not initially have this information. Knowing the cast for the event helped create a more believable narrative, if there was lack of cast information either random characters, too much or too less or even a lack of characters would have happened. Also understanding what each person in the performance does was very helpful as there are stages to the event, learning that it was not just one scene where the matadors kill the bull, but stages where the toreros would attack the bull and the lead matador would deliver the finishing strike.
Understanding the difference between bullfighting between nations was helpful, there could have been multiple endings for the animation. One where the bull would have been killed, influenced by the Spanish nation. Or one where the toreros go against the bull, trying to grab it by the horns in pega. Although the poem states “The final toll for the festival of death.” And “blood darkens and is washed away”, steps could have been taken to portray the poem in a way where pega was performed instead of the death of the bull.
There are some limitations to the research undertaken. It is limited by the time available to be spent on it, with more time primary research in the form of a case study could have been performed.
Although there were limitations all three of the research objectives were met. Understanding the history of bullfighting was top priority as it was to have the most influence over the animation. Researching on the views and opinions gave the final animation more depth and emotion which allowed for a better narrative. Without initializing in research the final production wouldn’t have been of the great quality it was.
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Porter, D. and Prince, D. 2009. Frommer's Spain 2010. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing.
Lowe, L. 2010. The Justin Bieber of Bullfighting. Details, December.
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Humane Society International. 2013. Bullfight Opinion Poll: As Spain Debates ‘Support for Bullfighting’ Bill, Most Spaniards Oppose Use of Public Funds for Cruel, Waning Bloodsport. [press release] 23rd April 2013.
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