Visual Identity and the Human Crisis in Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil

    • EUPE_BRUGES_2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Adriano Messias De Oliveira, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil / Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain


    Films represent a complex symptomatology of our culture. In this scope, moving images go far beyond a tangle of signs that the Saussurean tradition linguistics has depreciated for decades. Instead, they are able to point out important aspects of our visual identities. In contrast, independent and authorial films are capable of communicating agglutinations and possibilities of identification, establishing dialogues among alterities. My proposal is based on a semiotic-psychoanalytic approach that seeks to understand how the expression of monstrous forms appear in Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Paul Urkijo, 2016), produced by Àlex de la Iglesia. At the same time, Urkijo’s work plays with references to the Iberian Middle Ages and presents a multiple conception of film genres through a strong Gothic aesthetic. There are inferences to Basque culture but also to Iberoamerican identities, in a wide manner, especially considering the irony towards religious and moral aspects. If one of the marks of the contemporaneity is the crisis of Humanism, this film demarcates, with its sense of humor, some of the biases of our grave ontological crossroad when proposing the figure of a devil, an old legacy, as highly humanized. Errementari’s plot takes place in the village of Álava after ten years of the first Carlist War, when a government commissioner investigates an event linked to a sinister blacksmith with the name of Patxi, a solitary inhabitant of a dark forest. Far beyond a rural and folkloric tale, the film offers a collection of detailed infernal creatures, evoking creations of Hieronymus Bosch and the late medieval references of Ambroise Paré: a grotesque portrait of meanness and human hypocrisy.