The weight of the past: trauma and testimony in Que bom te ver viva

Heise, T. (2015) The weight of the past: trauma and testimony in Que bom te ver viva. New Cinemas, 13(2), pp. 107-122. (doi: 10.1386/ncin.13.2.107_1)

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Abstract

This article examines representations of trauma in Lúcia Murat’s Que bom te ver viva (How Nice to See You Alive, 1989), a semi-documentary focusing on the experiences of former political militants who, like the director herself, were arrested and tortured under Brazil’s military dictatorship. Despite having limited distribution at the time of release, the film has since gained status as one of the most significant representations of State-sanctioned violence during the 1960s and 1970s. It has received renewed attention more recently as Brazil enters a new period of reckoning with human rights crimes committed during the military regime. I first consider elements of trauma theory and their potential for better understanding the ways in which the film establishes connections between individual suffering and the wider socio-political realm. Essential to the film’s understanding of historical trauma are processes of ‘acting out’ and ‘working through’ which I explore along with the need, partially fulfilled in Que bom te ver viva, to create a witness to traumatic events. This is combined with an examination of stylistic strategies. I argue that the film’s flexible and unconventional aesthetics is a crucial means through which it can represent certain experiences associated with trauma and perform a radical re-envisioning of history.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Heise, Dr Tatiana
Authors: Heise, T.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Hispanic Studies
Journal Name:New Cinemas
Publisher:Intellect
ISSN:1474-2756
ISSN (Online):2040-0578

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