Vacas/Cows (Julio Medem, 1992)
From Goya’s dining room via Apocalypse Now
in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
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Julio Medem's Vacas/Cows follows the development of a feud between two families who live on a Basque hillside separated by a mysterious forest. Although the film evoked mixed critical response, it went on to win numerous awards including the Goya for 'Best New Director'. This chapter uses Goya's paintings, Saturn and Leocadia, and Coppola's Apocalypse Now to re-examine two confusing aspects of the film: the self-reflexive cinematography that is epitomised by the zoom through the cow's eye, and the reappearance of the same male actors in different generations. It presents an intertextual rereading that also sheds light on Medem's controversial comment: that the 'worst form of fascism is internal'. The chapter provides reasons for proposing that Vacas might usefully be reread via Goya and Coppola. The enigmatic shot of a cow's eye has come to function as a metonym for Vacas' attempt to expose the 'horror' of men consuming men.

Spanish cinema 1973–2010

Auteurism, politics, landscape and memory

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