Motherhood in Crisis in Lucrecia Martel’s Salta Trilogy

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The films of Argentine director Lucrecia Martel are among a number of recent works directed by women which, in the words of one critic, ‘operate according to their own stubbornly private rules, logic, timing, sense of space’ (Jones 2005). Such a description would seem to befit the female characters that inhabit Martel’s on-screen world as much as the films themselves. Monolithic matriarchal figures, whose quirks, faults and failings reverberate through the generations, loom large in Martel’s work. Yet, her style of filmmaking immerses the viewer in a distinctly childlike and fluid experience of being in the world, by eschewing establishing shots and other such orientating devices, and privileging the non-visual and off-screen space. This paper will discuss motherhood in crisis in Martel’s first three feature-length films, The Swamp (La ciénaga, 2001), The Holy Girl (La niña santa, 2004) and The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza, 2008), known as the Salta trilogy for their common geographic setting and semi-autobiographical concerns. It will examine how Martel employs adolescent point-of-view to explore filial relationships, and it will question how her use of sound, in particular, contributes to the ambivalence of the maternal in her films.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAlphaville Journal of Film and Screen Media
VolumeWinter 2015-16
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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