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