Thanks to Fortunato Trione and Larry Syder for comments on drafts of this article, and to Julia Lesage for an insightful and inspiring critique. Thanks as well to Gustavo Constantini for providing insights into Martel’s working methods.
1. The essay's title phrase is borrowed from Michel Chion’s Audio-Vision. [return to page 1 of essay]
2. Jonathan Romney quips: “La Niña Santa […] appears at first to deal in familiar, even overworked art- film territory: sexual awakening, religious fervour and the uneasy tensions between a young girl and a much older man (a theme that has pretty much kept French cinema bankable over the last three decades.)”
3. I hesitate here between the present and past tense, for while the beginning of the phenomenon can be identified in Historias Breves (1995), there is some discussion as to whether it has already ended.
6. Daniel Burman frames it a little differently: With the advent of new cinema schools, the "sons of the bourgeois middle class realized that we would prefer not to continue studying law or becoming doctors. Instead, we could go to cinema school and find girls."
8. Ana Amado’s assessment may be more accurate:
9. The emphasis on sound could be added to Leila Gómez’s cataloguing of the “visibility of the marginal,” which includes the focus on female adolescence, domesticity, the Northeast of Argentina, hardly seen in the Buenos Aires-centric national cinema, and Argentina itself, home of ‘third cinema.’ I take issue, however, with Gómez’s characterization of Martel’s style as “traditional,” which allows her to dispense with any analysis of form. She also ignores the particularity of Martel’s narratives.
11. There is much more to be written on melodrama and the New Argentine Cinema and Martel in particular. Some points to be explored include the understanding of social change in “private contexts and emotional terms” (Elsaesser, 47), the focus on victims, the emphasis on the maternal and paternal in a “feminised” culture. Martel’s men are also feminized, trying to find (and keep) their place in the domestic world. As in melodrama, but more overtly perhaps, “feminine desire is actively aimed at [these] passive, eroticized male” (Modleski, 332).[return to page 2]
13. “Martel has a flair for the symbolic, too, especially obvious in the case of water. It is ever-present in the air, for instance, as an oppressive humidity; frozen into ice to be secured from the maid or the bedside freezer; drawn in the bathroom, where José and Veronica shower incestuously; drained from the horrifyingly fetid swimming pool, and refilled; or in its alcoholic form, a potion for the middle-aged and elixir for the young, sip after sip of danger and relief” (Ruby Rich).
14. The term is Chion’s. The definition at filmsound.org is taken from Audio-vision: “Anempathetic sound —usually diegetic music—that seems to exhibit conspicuous indifference to what is going on in the film's plot, creating a strong sense of the tragic. For example, a radio continues to play a happy tune even as the character who first turned it on has died. Anempathetic effects can occur with sound effects —in a very violent scene after the death of a character some sonic process continues like the noise of a machine, the hum of a fan, a shower running as if nothing had happened.”
16. Latin American productions tend not to credit the tasks of sound design individually. Hence, for example, the entire sound team for La ciénaga —Hervé Guyader, Emmanuel Croset, Guido Berenblum, Adrián De Michele— won the award for best sound at the 2001 Havana Film Festival.
23. Martel’s compatriot, Julio Cortázar creates a similar juxtaposition in “Casa tomada” (“House Taken Over.”)[return to page 3]
24. As a result of technological changes, Martel’s soundtrack is far more complex than Bresson’s. As Walter Murch notes: “Sixty years ago […] it would not be unusual for an entire film to need only fifteen to twenty sound effects. Today that number could be hundreds to thousands of times greater”
29. I’m using the term here as “over-emphatically stated, over-hyped, and exaggerated […] both in loudness and in intimacy.” This isn’t so unusual, as the definition from filmsound.org quoted above suggests. Martel’s use of it, especially the orchestration of many hyper-real sounds, is.
Martel claims the rhyme was the starting point of her second film. See Diego Lerer “Lobo suelto, cordero atado”
34. See Aguilar 100-103 for further discussion of what he calls “una acusmática de la creencia” [“an acousmatic of belief.”] [return to page 4]
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