Permanent hauntings: spectral fantasies and national trauma in Guillermo del Toro's El espinazo del diablo [The Devil's Backbone]
Abstract:To admit the presence of a ghost is to establish a relationship between fantasy and national trauma. Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001) symbolically locates in an orphanage the struggling sides of the Spanish Civil War and tries to come to terms with the ghosts of the historical past by means of the repetition of a traumatic event triggered by the presence of the revenant, or ghost. The ghost as haunting makes the subject relive what has been silenced, allowing this to be intrinsically related with trauma, a psychical action that compulsively repeats events that have marked the subject's unconscious.
By taking fantasy as a scenario of desire, the ghost becomes the pivotal element in the film to establish a narrative form where the subject is able to define itself in a community with a shared traumatic past. The film screens this ghostly fantasy as a permanent structure that mediates the necessity for war trauma in Spain's contemporary national identity. The ghosts in del Toro's film do not tell how to live with them once they are found; on the contrary, they admit the fact that they have always already been there and that they need to stay to ideologically support the notion of a Spanish nation.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2012
More about this publication?
- Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.
Published in Association with the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Information for Advertisers
- Terms & Conditions
- Aims and Scope
- Recommend to your Library
- Sample Copy Request
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites