Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Returning to and from the Maternal Rural Space: Traumatic Memory, Late Modernity and Nostalgic Utopia in Almodóvar's Volver

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (3), 321–338.

Abstract

This article argues that Almodóvar's Volver (2006) confronts and 'works through' personal and collective traumas that return to haunt the present. The film thus functions as a powerful mode of witnessing. In Volver, the present and history have to be understood as undergoing a traumatic encounter. In addition, I propose that the film attempts to recuperate a utopian rural space as an alternative to the discontents produced by the dominant patriarchal and late- modern historical paradigm. However, such a utopian recuperation may imply a nostalgic operation. I attempt to disassociate nostalgia from its reactionary connotations in order to propose that the film functions as a reflection on the incorporation of memory into the present without disavowing longing or the contradictions of late modernity. I also suggest that the film proposes an alternative transgenerational and heterosocial concept of community. Finally, Volver allows us to think of the film medium as articulating a notion of history based on the open-ended coexistence of different temporalities.

Este artículo argumenta que la película Volver de Almodóvar (2006) confronta y 'trata con' traumas personales y colectivos que vuelven a atormentar el presente. El film cumple, por tanto, una función testimonial poderosa. En Volver el presente y la historia se deben entender como un encuentro traumático. Además, propongo que el film intenta recuperar un espacio rural utópico como alternativa al malestar producido por el patriarcado y por el paradigma dominante de la modernidad tardía. No obstante, dicha recuperación utópica puede ser motivada por un sentimiento nostálgico. En este artículo, intento desasociar la nostalgia de sus connotaciones reaccionarias para proponer que la película funciona como una reflexión sobre la incorporación de la memoria en el presente sin ocultar ni dicho sentimiento nostálgico ni las contradicciones de la modernidad tardía. Al mismo tiempo, sugiero que el film propone un concepto alternativo de comunidad definido como transgeneracional y heterosocial. Finalmente, Volver nos permite pensar el medio cinematográfico como una articulación de un concepto de la historia basado en la coexistencia abierta de diferentes temporalidades.

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Gutiérrez-Albilla, Julián Daniel