14 “To Go Back”

Rowan Finnegan Cummings

Volver (2006) is an interesting choice for a film to look at when discussing the uncanny, especially when delving into Freud’s many unsettling (icky, nasty; whatever you prefer) theories. The main character, Raimunda, shows some signs of a long-lasting Electra complex, and yet, many details of the story poke holes in the possible connection to this theory.

Raimunda obviously has a deep psychosexual connection to her father, most likely stemming from living without her mother for a long period of time and therefore not forming the usual strong connection to her. This leads to her marrying Paco, a man who reminds her of her deceased, abusive, horrible father. Who knows if it is the loyalty to her father (or, in this case, someone who resembles his demeanor to an uncanny degree) or pure ignorance that leads her to not notice Paco’s own predatory behavior towards her daughter, Paula. There is some hint of guilt when she walks in and sees what Paula has done to Paco, and her loyalties shift slightly in Paula’s favor (immediately helping to clean up the mess), but overall, her loyalty lies with her father/Paco.

Freud would probably call this an Electra complex, but, as stated in the Rivkin/Ryan anthology, “Only the father’s intervention, separating mother from child, prevents incest,” (391). Raimunda was separated from her mother, and it was this separation that led to her horrific abuse at the hands of her father (and the eventual birth of Paula, her daughter/sister). This pokes a huge hole in Freud’s theory, but that is neither here nor there.

Going back to the previous discussion of Raimunda and Paula’s relationship, though, I found the title of the film to be the most interesting detail. Volver translates to “to go back”. Could this be insinuating that Paula represents Raimunda as a child, and Raimunda is “going back” to her horrific childhood by witnessing Paula’s similar experience? Or could it be simply saying that, no matter what experiences may occur or how her loyalties may shift (as previously discussed), Raimunda will always “go back” to her psycho-sexual obsession with her father and anyone like him?

Discuss? (I’m really curious what other people think of the title point)


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Rowan Finnegan Cummings is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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