El Orfanato Themes

Improved Essays
Juan Antonio Bayona’s El Orfanato (2007) is a Spanish horror film that illustrates the Spanish ghost story while also representing the tragic loss of childhood. Laura returns to the orphanage where she was raised, hoping to re-open it. Instead, her son Simón goes missing seemingly at the hands of ghosts from her past. The disappearance and subsequent death of her son, as well as her reunion with her ghostly childhood friends symbolizes significant aspects of Spain’s traumatic history. This can be seen through the use of multiple genre approaches to the narrative, specifically the socio-cultural approach. The socio-cultural approach cites that “…the repetitive nature of key elements…” are the aspects that “…imbues a genre with social significance…” …show more content…
Due to the amplified “international” aspect in relation with the production of the Spanish horror genre, it is argued that level of internationalism apparent in contemporary Spanish horror greatly alters the narrative and form (Olney 378). While this is a valid point, I argue that the Spanish horror genre still maintains distinctive patterns and themes that separate it from the general Hollywood horror genre. Olney mentions two key patterns that are distinctive in these film, the centrality of children as well as a theme of antiauthoritarianism stemming from the Franco regime (378-379). In El Orfanato, the centrality of children can be seen in the characters of Simón and Laura’s ghostly childhood friends. A common theme in regard with children in the Spanish horror genre, is the victimization they are subjected to “…by those closest to them…” (378). El Orfanato effectively displays this in two key instances. The first can be seen with Laura’s disabled childhood friends. They are poisoned by the nun Benigna, who was their caretaker, as a form of retribution for the accidental death of her own son Tomás. She later hid their exhumed remains on the property of the orphanage. The second instance is the incident with Simón and Laura, near the end of the film. Laura realizes that she was the one who accidently locked Simón in the secret room and, as a result, he fell and broke his neck. This corroborates with Olney’s explanation that despite caring for their children’s safety, “…they often inadvertently act against those interests…” and in a split moment inadvertently kill their own children (379). This also coincides with Ann Davies’ description of ‘The Monstrous Feminine’, both Benigna and Laura can be regarded as the “…central motif of mothers as monsters”

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Beloved is originally assumed to be the ghost haunting the house of Sethe and Denver. There is a lot of evidence supporting that she is the dead daughter of Sethe. She has a scar where Sethe cut her two year old daughter in order to kill her. When Beloved firsts meets Sethe, she has a strong aroma of milk. She also hummed the tune that Sethe hummed to her children when they were little.…

    • 763 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    For example, a while back ago there was a case where a mother tried to drown her two babies due to her depression. When she was in court on trial her mother was on the stand as a witness. Her mother stated that one night she visited her daughter-in-law and found her daughter in the bathroom in the tub holding her fully clothed twins wet and crying. The mother of the twins wanted to kill the children she just could not handle them. The police was soon called after.…

    • 1056 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Person. The first PvP conflict Libby faces is when she was very young and someone murdered her two sisters and mother. The perpetrator is first believed to be Libby’s brother, Ben, causing Libby tobe in constant fear of herself and an anger towards her genealogy. This eventually leads her to dye her hair to separate herself, showing her pain and anger. “...I screamed ‘they’re all dead!’ in a voice that hurt my own ears”(Page 44) is a quote of what Libby said upon finding her family, showing her immediate agony and fear.…

    • 1282 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For "honor" her parents murdered their daughter. People who propose to love their daughter and protect and other sibling were told to watch so later they won 't become too westernized. After seven years one shafilea sibling set up confessed her parents murdered shafilea Ahmed. Sometimes it 's parents ' fault that first they give their children much independence, and when they see their kids are getting out of…

    • 759 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Improved Essays

    By using the idea of witchery and the devil, Mrs. Putnam puts the blame of the death of her children onto others. While explaining why she let Ruth seek Tituba to conjure the dead, she states to Parris, “they were murdered, Mr. Parris! And mark this proof! Mark It! Last night my Ruth were ever so close to their…

    • 790 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Described in her ghostly form as “suffering from some wasting disease, for not only was she extremely pale...but the skin…was tauntly stretched and stained across her bones…and her eyes seemed sunken back into her head,” (Hill, “The Woman in Black” 44-45) Jennet is a monster straight from nightmares. By the end of the book, it is discovered that she has come back to haunt because of the death of her child. After having a child out of wedlock, Jennet had to give it up to her sister to take care of and after some time apart Jennet worked her way back into the child’s life and planned on taking it away from the house. After watching her child die helplessly, hearing every scream, Jennet eventually succumbed to disease, she came back to haunt the house and the town. Due to her despair and anger, she kills one of the town’s children every year.…

    • 1969 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This is because, Capote wants to provide readers with insight of Perry’s troubles family life. In doing so, readers will sympathize with Perry because they will recognize the dysfunction within his family. Capote explains, “Look at his family!...His mother, an alcoholic, had strangled on her own vomit...Fern, the other daughter, had jumped out of a window of a San Francisco hotel...and there was Jimmy, the older boy—Jimmy, who had one day driven his wife to suicide and killed himself the next” (115). Everyone within Perry’s immediate family has something wrong with them. This causes Perry to experience a dysfunctional childhood, which contributes to his stress.…

    • 1564 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    First of all Crick’s wife Mary is barren, because when she was a teenager she attempted to induce miscarriage, which resulted in abortion. As Crick explains, every act, no matter how irrational it seems must have some explanation. He also reveals his wife is a chrizoprhrenic and has stolen a child, which she thinks is a gift from God. He then reveals about the murder of Freddie Parr and the mysterious disappearance of his half-brother Dick, who is the product of an incestuous relationship between father and daughter. When Tom Crick was 9, his father Earnest Atkinson married his nurse, who is actually Ernest’s daughter.…

    • 1361 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    After that the daughter takes the abuse or punishment from her mother from what she did years ago. The grandmother emotionally and physically starts to abuse the mother and children. The grandmother keeps the children locked up in a room because of the incest and the disgrace her daughter had done to their family. What family violence in the film is that it betrays emotional and physical abuse, incest,…

    • 1060 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    I hope to demonstrate the toxicity apparent in gender roles that have caused Bourgeois and so many others to fear them. The prose at the core of Louise Bourgeois’ piece details the fable she wrote, one that mimics her own parents’ relationship.“Bourgeois has often remarked that, in order to exorcise the painful memories of her past, it is necessary for her to reconstruct them in order to destroy them,” (Frances Morris (Louise Bourgeois), page 266, 2008) was noted by curator Brooke Hodge, and this can be found at the thematic heart of “She’s Lost It.” As a child, Bourgeois witnessed her father having an affair with her own tutor, and her mothers silence surrounding it. In France, where Bourgeois grew up, it was against custom for a man to leave his wife, so while her home life was stable, it was riddled with mistrust of those that Bourgeois was meant to love the most. To speak about this deep unhappiness as a child was taboo, but as Bourgeois aged and created, she would utilize it, saying that “Art is the experience, the re-experience of trauma”. As Donald Kuspit, an art critic, summarizes; “Bourgeois repairs and sanctifies the members of her close-knit family- mother, father, husband, children- whom she has damaged and profaned with her bad feelings” (Frances Morris (Louise Bourgeois), page 299, 2008).…

    • 1263 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays