Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Review: La Novia

by Jemima Haydon

A classically Spanish play ‘Bodas de Sangre’ presents and poses questions of female struggles. Written in 1932 and first performed in 1933, the theatrical production by Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca would have been logistically relevant at the time of reception, however from a modern day perspective we disagree with the patriarchal assumptions and traditions. La Novia, the protagonist of the work had the major struggle of choosing a husband with the pressure of the expectations of the 1930’s in Spain upon her. It was a Catholic country and there was a huge divide between the roles of women and men; men having the upper hand at the time. Even before the reign of Franco in Spain, women were seriously oppressed, which only continued to increase with his time in power. They weren’t allowed to have their own bank accounts, they couldn’t work unless they had the husband’s permission and they were expected to remain faithful to their spouse even though it was known that men weren’t the most faithful - in the play is says “Grandfather left a child on every corner” which implies that it even happened in this story, reflecting machista Spain. Does that seem fair to you?
La Novia has the classic struggle of true love - the ‘obvious’ husband for her is El Novio, however she has a secret lust for the character of Leonardo who is the only named character in the play. This has significance especially in the film adaptation of the play called ‘La Novia’ which was written in 2015 because it’s a production only through the eyes of La Novia herself. She is destined to be with El Novio but on her wedding night to him, Leonardo visits her on horseback at 3am which kick starts the inevitable tragedy.

La Madre, who is a widow and the mother of El Novio, also has to live out a lifetime struggle as her husband and other son were murdered by La Familia Felix. Her inner turmoil is that she continuously tries to keep the remains of her family together whilst bearing the sadness of her trauma and by doing this she suffers to keep the honour code and her family name alive. However, there is an underlying longing for revenge against La Familia Felix. Also, La Mujer (de Leonardo) has to stand by her husband regardless of the fact that he has committed murder as it was her wifely duty to always be faithful which causes her to suffer in silence in a very stoical manner. 

As I said, the film version of this play is cleverly from the single perspective of the main character, La Novia. Directed by Paula Ortiz, it portrays her love for Leonardo in a more tangible way - and creates a sense that she can’t live with him but she also can’t live without him. Sadly, this tumult turns into a battle between the two men for her affection in which they end up calamitously killing each other meaning that La Novia loses everything.

This puts into question whether La Novia is a hero or a villain. She fights for her true love and goes against the traditional standards of her time which would depict her as an empowered female. However, is she the source of the tragedy; she is the reason the two men kill each other in the end. Through her own desire she plays with both of them and ultimately loses everything. Is she a villain in causing those deaths? Or is love something worth fighting for and even dying for? Do you think that the film makes us understand and accept la Novia's predicament? Or do we end up despising her for the destruction she unleashes? Personally, I think that she could be either depending on what viewpoint you take. 

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