Friday, September 24, 2010

TC: The Headless Woman (Mistress of the Labyrinth)


File:Classical 7-Circuit Labyrinth.jpg

She runs over something in the road, perhaps a dog, or was it something else, a child?

A death is at the center of the labyrinth.

Persephone drives on, into the suddenly pelting rain.

At the center of the labyrinth, shocked, in a fog, in her car, becoming the mistress of the underworld. Her domain now the kingdom of ghosts.

"The house is full of the dead -- ignore them and they will leave," mumbles her demented mother, who is perhaps Demeter.

Argentine director Lucrecia Martel's film is a dream of disembodiment, drifting in and out of focus. Back and forth across the shadowland between death and life.

At Knossos, in Minoan Crete, Persephone, the mistress of the underworld, presided over the ritual enactment. A roofless dancing ground was spoken of as "the labyrinth".

A dry arroyo that is suddenly flooded with a confusion of memory.

To all the gods honey, reads a tablet inscription at the foot of a female figure at Knossos. To the mistress of the labyrinth, honey.

Karl Kerenyi tells us that to the Minoans, honey was equated with divine blood. The ritual gift.

I remembered the haunting images of this film as if viewing through a clouded glass scenes from another life.

File:Persephone Cnidus BM C483.jpg

Classical Seven-Circuit Labyrinth: image by James Jen, 2009
Persephone Cnidus, c. 330 B.C., found at Baiae, Campania: photo by Jastrow, 2006 (British Museum, London)
Lucrecia Martel, director of The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza): photo via The Auteurs, 2008


Anonymous said...

Encountering this on the way upstairs after a day that sounds like the day (well, not quite) in The Headless Woman (Mystery of the Labyrinth) was very exciting and invites an early re-encounter tomorrow. I have experienced things in the way you describe in your final sentence. I would like very much to see this film.

TC said...


It's a strange, tense, haunting film about the private guilts of the new middle classes of Argentina, with a brilliantly impassive performance by the lead actress.

Martel's other films include the humid, moody La Cienaga (The Swamp) and Holy Girl.

Bentley H said...

I enjoyed this post thanks for sharing.