Maria M. Delgado
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La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Silence, historical memory and metaphor
in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
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Recent scholarship on transnational cinema has questioned long-held understandings of what might be termed an 'authentic' national film. Even Pedro Almodovar has acknowledged a political inflection to his recent work grounded in issues of historical memory. It is perhaps not insignificant that Almodovar's production company, El Deseo, was the Spanish co-producer of Lucrecia Martel's La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman. This chapter argues that the film enunciates a trauma of collective guilt and grief that remains unarticulated in overt narrative terms. A hit-and-run contemporary thriller where plot gradually gives way to metaphor, The Headless Woman clinically dissects the mechanisms that operate a culture of the disappeared. Martel uses the hit-and-run narrative to comment on a society in denial. This is a film about the unspoken privileges that underpin a society. Spanish critics seemed wilfully reluctant to accept the film as a parable on the collective history of the disappeared.

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Spanish cinema 1973–2010

Auteurism, politics, landscape and memory

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