Acción mutante (1993)
Against the conspiracy of boredom
in The cinema of Álex de la Iglesia
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This chapter deals with Álex de la Iglesia's film, Acción mutante. The protagonists of Acción mutante are a collection of politically radicalised disabled men who have formed a ‘mutant action’ terrorist group to carry out guerrilla warfare on a culture obsessed with fitness and beauty, some time in an ill-defined future. Acción mutante is an all-out assault on what de la Iglesia has called the ‘conspiracy of boredom’ in Spanish cinema. It tends to literalise what many films leave implicit or metaphorical, and there could be no clearer example than the stapling shut of Patricia's mouth for the voyage to Axturias, an image that is regularly reproduced and has become iconic of the film. Acción mutante does not trade in the allusiveness so beloved of art cinema's proponents, but this does not prevent one from examining what the film leaves out in its articulation of sexual difference, nor what it says without knowing it says it. Its making coincided with the rapid expansion of private Spanish television, a development the film itself draws on. Acción mutante asks its audience to align itself with a Machiavellian individualism and a distrust of, and scepticism towards, organised political action. By making its heroes marginal and disfigured, though, the film refuses the humanism under whose cover individualism usually travels.

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