Posts Tagged ‘Almodovar’

h1

Volver: A Return to Memory

May 23, 2009

 

 

Volver

Director Pedro Almodóvar portrays a pantheon of archetypal female persona in his 2006 film, Volver. From Spanish, volver means ‘to return’ and can be used in both literal and figurative contexts—the physical return to a place, or a metaphoric return to experience. Located in modern day Spain, the film shares its time frame between suburban Madrid and a rural village of the La Mancha region. La Mancha is famously recognized from Miguel de Cervantes’ classic tale, Don Quixote. Though chronologically centered in modern times, the reality of the La Manchan village is immediately identified as being a liminal, or threshold between what is present and what has passed. It is important to clarify, that though Almodóvar uses cinematic and narrative techniques to convey the innate ‘otherness’ of the village, he did so not as a false construction, but as an amplification of what is already present in rural Spain. Specifically, La Mancha is characterized as being a place of fantasy and insanity, the film elaborating on the strong winds that bring fire and lunacy. In contrast, life on the edges of Madrid is characterized by stark urbanization and the necessity of hard work. In both locations, loneliness is a familiar neighbor. The film centers around the relationship of five women and their challenge to return to memories that they prefer to keep repressed. Central to their struggles is the relationship to the Mother and to Death: the womb and the tomb.

The various layers of mystery, memory, and wounding present in the film are more clearly understood through the perspective of psychological structures and persona described in Archetypal Psychology, specifically through the personification of Athena, Hera, and Demeter. Personification “implies a human being who creates Gods in human likeness much as an author creates characters out of his own personality. These Gods depict his own needs; they are his projections” (Hillman 12). Hillman compares the process of creating God-images to the authorial process of character development. In both instances, the personification is a projection of the author. Understanding that personification reflects aspects of a personality and is also a creative process is important. In Virginia Apperson and Jon Beebe’s upcoming book The Presence of the Feminine in Film, the authors describe the relationship between cinema and analyst in the following way: “The film director’s job is to tell a compelling, captivating and credible tale. The Jungian analyst’s job is to tap into the archetypal possibilities that lie within their analysands’ dreams and neurotic symptoms, helping them discover that which blocks them and that which will lead them into a more meaningful existence.” The tool of both the cinematographer and the analyst are found in archetypes. Apperson and Beebe explain:

With a shared reverence for image, the movie director and Jungian analyst carry a confidence that this instrument that they most rely upon, the archetypal image, ‘is a living, organic entity which acts as a releaser and transformer of psychic energy’ (Edinger 1972, 109). Without the symbolic possibilities found in the many layers behind the image, neither could do their job. Without the vitality of the symbolic, there would be no growth, no dynamism, no effective movement, no transformation, and no redemption. (Apperson and Beebe, Publishers Preface)

Archetype becomes the metaphoric palette for both the artist and the healer. As with any creation, it is important to clarify from the beginning of this analysis that the intention of the exploration is not to reduce the plot to a single argument; rather, it is to acknowledge that the very nature of femininity is to resist absolute definitions, to allow for each woman hold her own pantheon of goddess within her psyche, and to inspire future explorations. [Excerpt from Larger Piece]

© 2009 Cerena Ceaser


 

Advertisements