Intertextuality In All About My Mother

806 Words 4 Pages
Borrowing the genre of melodrama, Almodóvar’s award-winning film, All About My Mother (1999), features transgender and post-queer study of sexuality. Apart from presenting two pre-op transgenders, the film renders a variety of “abnormal” intimate relationships, including the protagonist, Manuela’s family without a father, Huma’s ultimately failed lesbian relationship with Nina, and the family formed at the end of the film, constituted by Manuela, Rosa’s baby, and queer girlfriends. These unusual forms of intimacy disturb the hereto-sexist institutions, e.g. marriage and family. Portraying gender, sexuality, and identity as unfixed, the film mocks the conventional perception by interweaving the theatrical performance with the real life: On …show more content…
The film refers to A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) several times: At the very beginning of the film, Manuela and her son, Esteban, goes to see it. Attempting to get a signature from Huma, the actress of the play, Esteban dies from the traffic accident. After his death, Manuela re-encounters Huma. Apart from describing the death of her son, she further reveals that decades ago, she met her ex-husband, Lola, when producing for the very same play. In this way, it is not possible to “keep her life separate from the play” as the real-life destiny and the theatrical performance are closely intertwined (Allison 2005, 234). Such interconnection is further enhanced by the mise-en-scène: The dominant hue of the poster of play (fig. 1), yellow and red, extends from the poster frame to the wall of the theatre (fig. 2), as well as the interior decoration of Manuela’ apartment (fig. 3). The effect that the theatrical colors with high saturation and brightness, appear in domains of everyday life symbolises the dramatic impact penetrates the reality. In the dramatised mise-en-scène, real events mimic the theatrical play in a camp way, where the cinema cliché, e.g. accident, death, disease, and conflicts, happens alongside music and “complex range of visual effects” (Allison 2009, 141-2). …show more content…
The former sense of “performativity” denotes the personification of certain gender ideals, exemplified by the act of interpellating a newborn baby as boy or girl, whereas the performativity in the latter sense is usually implemented by the queer activists as a tool to consciously “mime and expose both the binding power of the heterosexualizing law and its expropriability” (231-2). The trickiness of performativity is symbolic in the case of drag, which is taken by Butler as an exemplary of performance. On the surface, it denaturalises the gender codes, while in essence, rather than questioning the embodiment of ideal gender perception, drag performance may undergird the gender stereotypes associated with certain clothing (Butler 231; Burzzi 148-9). Therefore, when analysing this film, we should examine whether the representation of transgender actively practices gender norms or parodies such requirements to de-sanction the sexual legitimacy, and whether the cinematic citation of Hollywood performance reinforces the stigmatised femininity and masculinity through repeated authoritative

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