Lucrecia Martel’s Allusions To The Death Of Luciano

The film La Cienega (The Swamp) is a drama genre film directed by Lucrecia Martel, released in 2001. It is about the life of two women, Mecha and Tali, and their families in a small provincial town of Salta, Argentina. They both were living two totally different lives. Mecha family is very unusual and left to take care of themselves, because the mother stays in the bed all day and the father is vain and obsessed with himself. Tali family is more together and subtle. The mother takes care of her children very attentively and the father only wants the best for his children. While watching the film Luciano’s character caught my attention. Luciano was the son of Tali and Rafael. He first caught my attention when the male children of Mecha told Luciano an urban legend about a woman who picked up a stray dog that ended up eating her cats and one of the veterinarians told her it’s not a dog at all, but a huge African rat. The story of the African rat bothered young Luciano.

During the movie the director Lucrecia Martel, was alluding to the climax of the movie, having Luciano fall off of the ladder and die. Her allusions were not always clear but after going back and watching different parts of the movie I understood why constructed the allusions this way. One of the first allusions Martel made was when Luciano first came home from Mecha’s house and he about to go to sleep, he tells his father he doesn’t want him to turn off the lights because he is scared of the big African rat that’s down on the floor. In doing this we know the dog was on Luciano’s mind and would bother him throughout the movie. During the movie we go back and forth between life of the two families and the reporting on TV of a glimpsing of the Virgin Mary standing near a water tower on somebody’s roof. The roof is off of the ground and is high up. I concluded that by added this spiritual idea to the movie; Martel would be making a point with another object in the movie, which would lead to Luciano’s death. This important object was the ladder on Tali’s patio.

The most important allusion would be the scene of the daughters of Tali and Luciano playing a game in their home. They were playing the game and Luciano was hiding from them behind his mother, while his mother hammers a nail in the wall and he hears the dog and explains to his mother that the dog next door will break the wall down because he believes the dog is the African dog that Mecha male children told him the story about, the same story that has been bothering him. The director then gets the close-up of the daughter climbing up the ladder and exclaiming, “It’s a dog rat, It’s a dog rat!” to scare the young Luciano. Martel also gets great close up shots of Luciano gazing up at the ladder and the wall listening to the dog bark. That was a great job of Martel foreshadowing to the tragedy at the end of movie. By incorporating these influential close ups, the audience knows he is excessively distracted and intrigued about the dog next door, because he believes it is the African rat dog. This distraction would only led to the death of him.

Also, during the scene the children tag Luciano and screams, “fall down and die, die, die!” When he does, the director gets a long shot of Luciano lying down playing dead, Tali, and the ladder. It was a very ironic shot because he dies in the movie in the same spot that his sisters were yelling at him to fall and die. In the long shot the ladder seems as if it is hovering over him, while he is lying down playing dead. It is very similar to the shot we get at the end of the movie. The shot is the most iconic shot in the movie. Overall, the movie was very good in alluding and foreshadowing the death of Luciano, which I believe the whole movie, was working to elaborate.

Close Up of Luciano Gazing Upon Wall Because of the Dog.
Close Up of Luciano Gazing Upon Wall Because of the Dog.
Long Shot of Luciano Playing Dead. The Allusion To The Final Scene.
Long Shot of Luciano Playing Dead. The Allusion To The Final Scene.
The Most Important Shot With Luciano Falling From The Ladder and Dying.
The Most Important Shot With Luciano Falling From The Ladder and Dying.

Questions:

What are your general thoughts on the movie?
Do you agree with the point made of the director Lucrecia Martel alluding to the death of Luciano?
What do you believe the object of the movie is?
What do you think of the character Luciano?
Who do you believe is the protagonist and the antagonist?

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