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La Antena

La antena

Like many Argentine science fiction films – La invasión (1969), La sonámbula (1998), Cóndor Crux, la leyenda (2000) – La antena takes a retrofuturistic approach to the genre. Styles from the 1930s and 1940s predominate in La antena’s costumes and its studio mock-ups of city streets, but the existence of forms of telekinetic energy unknown to our science thrusts us into the future, or (more likely) into an alternative past. In this heterotemporal world, old inventions, like the manual typewriter, become vital parts of new and unfamiliar machines, and a 1930s Ford is fitted with a contemporary car alarm. Most striking – and entertaining – in the film is the evocation of older styles of filmmaking, principally silent cinema, Expressionism, and film noir.

Although clearly indebted, as this image shows, to Fritz Lang’s critique of a dehumanizing modernity in Metropolis (1927), Sapir’s film updates Lang’s vision by referencing our twenty-first-century awareness of capitalism’s fragility, and its reliance on finite resources. Recycling and repair become the means by which La antena presents a form of resistance to the logic of capitalist consumption. Against the grain of much science fiction film, La antena advances an ambivalent presentation of science and technology

in which tools and machines may be used to alienate, exploit and dehumanize, but also to redeem, restore, and rebuild. Sapir performs his own operations of recycling and refunctioning, directing his post-production team to use digital effects to mimic the use of optical devices in early cinema (mirrors, models, superimpositions) in order to introduce playful folds and cleavages into the history of cinema’s technological development. In the film’s form as well as its narrative, visual technologies are placed more often at the service of utopian imagination than of dystopian terror.

Text: Joanna Page

Director: Esteban Sapir
La antena (Argentina, 2007)