Volver

So earlier this week, our CI class watched the Spanish film “Volver”. It was a rather entertaining film that held some strong parallels to the novel we are currently reading called “The House of Spirits”.

Now I’ll just put this out there because I can’t be the only one. At the start of the film, when the main character whose name I forgot because I’m bad with names tries to hide the body of her husband, I couldn’t help but think of the Spongebob episode “Nasty Patty”. It was probably because I watched it recently, but it actually had some remarkable parallels with how it was a comedic way of hiding a body from possible suspects. I was honestly expecting that guy that came in to make a huge order of food to go “Oh hey, do you have enough ice for the drinks?” and just try and open the freezer with the body.

Anyway, when comparing it to the novel the first thing I noticed was that, of course, the husband is a creepy pervert rapist… who is also okay with incest. Sounds like Esteban, minus the incest part. Unless he was also okay with that… I can’t recall. But the parallels between the husband in the film and Esteban in the novel were pretty darn close. Esteban was a horny little pervert who just raped every woman he saw and wanted sex all the time. And in the film, the husband is seen feeling up his wife when she’s not in the mood and peeking at his daughters’ panties (gross), and even eventually raping her (double gross). And from what we learn later in the film, spoiler alert, he also raped his wife… who was his sister? Something messed up along the lines of that anyway. I can remember they were related.

Another parallel I made was the spiritual aspect. In the novel, Clara has powers that connect her to a spiritual world, you could say. She has telekenesis and can see into the future. There’s a sense of magic and spritual stuff with her. And in the film, there is also some sort of magical realism with the grandmother who came back to life, which leads to some comedic moments. But her presence is always ambiguous. It’s not until the end of the film when the audience learns if she actually came back from the dead or not. But the point is, that during that time that it was unsure, for me at least, there was a small sense of confusion. Are these characters actually going crazy? Is she supposed to be invisible and there to show them what’s right? I didn’t know, and I think I can blame the film’s lack of special effects for that. It did a good job though with the concept.

Now, I’m probably not supposed to bring “Pan’s Labyrinth” into this, but I can’t help it because I need to share my thoughts on this. From what I’ve seen and read so far, relatively modern Spanish works seem to put forth the importance of women in society and how strong they can be. Reading one review from The New York Times, A.O. Scott seems to say how “Drawing on influences ranging from Latin American telenovelas to classic Hollywood weepies and on an iconography of female endurance that includes Anna Magnani and Joan Crawford, Mr. Almodóvar has made yet another picture that moves beyond camp into a realm of wise, luxuriant humanism.” (Scott) and I find that interesting. That little blurb about female endurance shows that I’m not the only one who saw a small trend. Cole Smithey adds to this with a very important statement in his review “The way that Almodovar’s resilient women rise above their traumatic pasts to serve one another and their community is a microcosm of idealized reality that welcomes scrutiny.” (Smithey). Both these reviewers see how strong the female characters are and I think that’s good for both showing how females are just as, if not more capable than men in some situations and also how a good movie director can make the viewer root for any type of characters.

 

 

Works Cited

Scott, A. O. “The Darkest of Troubles in the Brightest of Colors.” The New York Times. The            New York Times, 02 Nov. 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/movies           /03volv.html?_r=1

 

Smithey, Cole. “Cole Smithey – Reviews: Volver.” Cole Smithey – Reviews: Volver. N.p., 31                Jan. 2007. http://www.colesmithey.com/reviews/2007/01/volver.html

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House of Spirits

The House of Spirits is a Latin American novel written by Isabel Allende.

allende

I’m currently reading for my CI class. It’s quite an interesting read so far, mainly because of the structure. For whatever reason, it seems like every chapter is independent yet connected at the same time. There’s so much content packed in each one and each one focuses on one sort of mini story within this massive story, if that makes sense. Well, that’s how it seems to me anyway, but I like it.

One thing I will say though is that the writing is fascinating. One chapter can be both horribly dramatic and yet cartoonish, though at different points. For instance the part with the ants eating up everything. I just imagined them like termites destroying everything like in a cartoon. Because of this variety and unexpectedness, I find myself sucked in with the reading. Though past me would say no, that’s only because I often read this the night before the reading is due and find myself very tired and going “I have HOW many pages left?!”, but it’s still entertaining.

When it comes to the characters of this book, I can remember most of what they do but not the names. But that’s due to how I’m very bad with names. Esteban however, sticks out because of how much of a psychopath he is. And because the novel focuses on him a lot, but mainly because he’s so crazy. One day he’s building an economy, and the next he’s raping every woman in town. Never a dull moment with Esteban. The writer seems to have painted him in a very negative way, but I think he might be slowly redeeming himself. It’s hard to tell at this point where I’m at if he’ll become good again or not, but those few moments he has when he realizes his mistakes and sees how messed up he is, makes it feel like there might be some sort of redemption coming up. Then again it could be to just make him more human and show how even though he’s like this, and knows it’s bad, he can’t control himself because he’s gone mad. Hm. Whatever the case, I should get back to reading the book and find out what happens.

Pan’s Labyrinth

So yesterday in our CI class we watched Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a rather creepy, disturbing, yet also entertaining film. I would have liked a warning that it would be spooky at times but I turned out fine. No nightmares or anything yet. Also, I want to watch more Spanish films now because it was much better than I expected.

It was interesting how the parallel between magic and reality was portrayed in the film. To some it can be seen that magic does exist in that world, but I think it’s a way to show how Ofelia copes with the very extreme issues around her. In a way, I believe the film’s message is that even in the darkest of times, if you know where to look, you’ll find hope, and that hope can help you get through those moments.