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Open Access Publications from the University of California

La Rabia: Violence, Gender and Childhood in the Argentinean Pampas

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This paper addresses questions of contemporary gender and feminist theory through an analysis of the figure of the little girl inLa Rabia(2008), a film by Albertina Carri,one of the leading young figures of what has been called New Argentine Cinema.La Rabiais a horrific tale of family violence set in the arid Argentinean pampas, focused through the eyes of Nati, a mute little girl who acts as a silent spectator as she watches her mother’s submission to her authoritarian patriarchal father, and witnesses her sadomasochistic sexual relations with another man. Nati unconsciously identifies with her mother, both in the domestic scene with the father and in the sexual act with the perverse lover, and mimics her through a set of autistic symptoms that echo the gendered violence inflicted on the maternal body. Nati expresses herself through three set of symptoms: firstly, letting out some primal, inarticulate, animal yells; secondly, taking her clothes off in public compulsively and spontaneously; and thirdly, drawing some terrified scribbles that take on a life of their own (which are represented in the film through watercolor, ink- based animation). In these three ways, Nati turns her helplessness -her disability-, her speech and general linguistic impairment, into a repetitive performance of gender violence.

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