Transcendent Images and Semina Verbi in Carlos Reygadas’ Films

Authors

Keywords:

film, transcendence, semina Verbi, Carlos Reygadas

Abstract

This article is an analytical and interpretive reading of the Mexican film di- rector Carlos Reygadas’ work in light of “semina Verbi” (seeds of the Word). In his films, Reygadas explores the alienation and confusion that man, who has rejected traditional values and faith in God, experiences in the modern world. At the same time and like his characters, Reygadas seeks transcendence and the possibility of spiritual rebirth. His films are not strictly religious, but they do contain faint echoes the Gospel or semina Verbi, meaning “seeds of the Word” that are present in non-Christian cultures and secular works of art. As John Paul II said, the Spirit sows seeds of the Word in different rites and cultures that open them up to the fullness of meaning in Jesus Christ.

Viewers can find semina Verbi in different elements of Reygadas’ films, including: the characters’ motivations, aspirations, and actions; the symbolic structure of the film’s space and time; and in the specific narrative style that invites viewers to meditate and contemplate. This Mexican director’s films echo man’s hidden longing for the spiritual world and for union with the sacred, with nature that surrounds him (which is “divinized” in many films), with himself, and with his spirituality that has been lost.

An essential element of Reygadas’ work is the pursuit of transcendence understood in a specific way. The director does not seek metaphysical order in his works. Instead, he uncovers the biological and bodily dimensions of the world and recalls the eternal cycle of death and rebirth in nature. This is why transcendence often has a sexual dimension in Reygadas’ films; his characters experience a renewed physical interaction by which they transcend them- selves. This type of experience leads the characters from passivity, stagnation, and death to the vitality and life. Reygadas’ characters’ search for metaphysical and spiritual transcendence and their experience of bodily transcendence are motivated and characterized by something similar: the desire to transcend their own limitations and barriers—an experience of contact with the One Who surpasses man, or that which man surpasses.

The presence of images of transcendence and hidden semina Verbi are im- portantdeterminantsofReygadas’creativeworks.Thecinematicrealitythathe creates is a distant sign of a higher order established by something other than man, and, yet, it is an order over which man has an overwhelming influence.

Author Biography

Ewa Katarzyna Citko, University of Białystok

EWA KATARZYNA CITKO, PhD, Hab, is professor of literary and film studies at the University of Bialystok (UwB) and a team leader in UwB’s Institute of Cultural Studies’ Department of Contemporary Culture and Film Studies. She conducts scholarly research in the field of cultural and film studies. Her main research interests focus on analysis and in- terpretation of the works of primarily Spanish and Latin American film directors, emotions and values in film, and the interplay between the sacred and profane in contemporary culture. She has written six books and edited more than fifty scholarly articles. She was awarded the AECI scholarship by the Ministerio de Asuntes Exteriores en España and, af- ter living in Madrid for one month, wrote the monograph Filmowy świat Pedra Almodóvara. Uniwersum emocji [The Cinematic World of Pedro Almodóvar: The Universe of Emotions], which is the most important book in her scholarly achievements thus far. Her book Ciemność i światło. Kino Carlosa Reygadasa [Darkness and Light: The Cinema of Carlos Reygadas] is being prepared for print.

ORCID 0000-0002-7246-6921

References

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Published

2021-12-30

How to Cite

Citko, E. K. (2021). Transcendent Images and Semina Verbi in Carlos Reygadas’ Films. Rocznik Teologii Katolickiej, 20, 191-212. Retrieved from http://rtk.uwb.edu.pl/index.php/rtk/article/view/19

Issue

Section

THEOLOGY OF CULTURE