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Infinite landscapes in Gutirrez Aragn's Habla, mudita

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Abstract:

The 1973 release of Habla, mudita marked both the end of Spain's miracle years and the beginning of environmentalism in Spain. The film, which hinges on an encounter between the urban and the rural, is set in the wilderness of Northern Spain. The urban gaze, which stands in both fear and awe of the landscape, enunciates Northern wilderness as its Other. For Levinas, the Other is infinite: it should be preserved in all its irreducible strangeness and lie beyond the comprehension of the subject. Although not explicitly spatial in his thinking, Levinas's writing serves as a useful framework for the elusive, powerful vision of nature that the film advances. Via poetic visual language, the Northern Spanish landscape is represented as a mysteriously remote terrain, positioned beyond the reach of the urban gaze. In seeking to preserve the landscape as the infinite Other, the film articulates an anxiety towards both the ecological fallout of industrialisation and the demise of Spanish rural life.

Keywords: Gutirrez Aragn; Levitas; environmentalism; landscape; peasants; rural cinema

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/shci.3.2.89_1

Affiliations: Queen Mary College, University of London.

Publication date: September 21, 2007

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