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The Spanish femme fatale and the cinematic negotiation of Spanishness

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This article examines the recycling of stereotypes of Spanishness in film versions of the Carmen story and in Pedro Almodóvar’s Matador (1986). It discusses these in terms of masquerade, the masquerade of the femme fatale as posited by Mary Ann Doane and of the nation as posited by Susan Hayward, and suggests that the latter can be figured through the former. The film versions offer a putative ‘authentic’ Spanish identity in opposition to the masquerade of the femme fatale, an authentic identity which ultimately cannot be sustained; alternatively, Almodóvar offers a celebration of masquerade as the blurring of gender differences. In all cases, the masquerade disguises a lack of identity at its heart: there is at bottom no true, fixed Spanish identity to be found. We are left with the spectacle of ersatz identity embodied as much by the stereotype of Spanishness as by the femme fatale.

Keywords: Almodóvar; Carmen; Spanishness; femme fatale; lack; masquerade

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Newcastle

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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