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Affect, aliens, and crisis in Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestre

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This article will analyse how Nacho Vialgondo’s Extraterrestre (2011) first deploys and then intentionally confuses genre tropes as a way to comment on the housing crisis in Spain that was reaching its apex at the time of the film’s release. Specifically, Extraterrestre, marketed as a science fiction thriller, tells the story of an alien invasion in Madrid through the emotional arc of a melodrama. While staying away from overtly political commentary, Extraterrestre’s focus on romance and the home emphasizes how individuals respond in moments of crisis. Rather than focus on heroes who fight a spatial invasion and deterritorilization, the writer-director follows four protagonists who decide to isolate themselves from the outside danger, too absorbed in their romantic trysts to react rationally. This generic juxtaposition creates emotional dissonance in the spectator that allows for a consideration of affect as tool of hegemony. Social geographer Nigel Thrift refers to the relationship between affect and power as an ‘emotional regime’ that is manipulated by political, spatial and economic actors. To this end, my reading of the film is primarily informed by urban theory, especially how affect is produced and, in turn, produces space.
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Keywords: Extraterrestre; Nacho Vigalondo; affect; emotion; film; housing crisis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: College of Charleston

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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