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What are the strengths and shortcomings of cosmopolitan memory practices in Guillermo del Toro's films?

Étude de cas : What are the strengths and shortcomings of cosmopolitan memory practices in Guillermo del Toro's films?. Recherche parmi 299 000+ dissertations

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In addition to the definitions mentioned above, cosmopolitan memory is labelled in the article by Bull & Hansen as ‘an attitude towards victimhood’, meaning that the story is based on the suffering of the victim, while the image of the ‘hero’ ‘in the traditional sense disappears from the stories’ (Bull&Hansen, 2016). In other words, the victim becomes some sort of hero although he/she does not defeat the evil but in fact, passes away. We can see that in Guillermo del Toro’s films El espinazo del diablo, where Doctor Casares dies fighting, and in El laberinto del faunto where Ofelia also dies, in the hands of the evil.

Guillermo del Toro ‘employs the motif of childhood to address the historical period of Spanish Civil War’ (Sherriff, 2015) in the two films mentioned above. Yet, in El espinazo del diablo he does not make the historical context as clear as in the other film. As Hina mentioned and as we also discussed in class, if I were to watch the film without knowing that it set during the Spanish Civil War, I do not know if I would have thought of that time period. It is true that I would have placed the film in times of war, but I would have not gone as far as the period intended. That is a shortcoming of cosmopolitan memory, as the historical context is not clearly defined. It is ‘universalised’ in order to fit many other contexts.

Coming back to Sherriff’s idea, by using the perspective and the presence of a child, del Toro had the ability to ‘negotiate between the events of the past and their effect on the future’, while also touching the theme of ‘child vs war’ that has been used a lot in cinematography as they are both in direct conflict and that wars always look even worse as it affects children (Sherriff, 2015). That is a strength of cosmopolitan memory, as many mentioned it. The innocence of a child allows us to see the world differently, sometimes from a more playful perspective, like in El laberinto del fauno, making us forget about the horrors of the adult life, which in this case is the war. Like in the case of Ofelia, it offers us an escape world where we can relate to a certain level, using our own memories, of childhood, while we watch a film that intends to recreate memories of a horrible historical period.


Bull, AC & Hansen, HL 2016, 'On agonistic memory', Memory Studies – University of Bath, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 390-404.

Sherriff, G., Spring 2015, Franco’s Monsters: The Fantasy of Childhood in ‘El laberinto del fauno’ and ‘Balada triste de trompeta’, Confluencia; Revista Hispanica de Cultura y Literature, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 127-139.


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