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Shakespeare and Contemporary Latin American Cinema


In this article, Burnett places in dialogue two contemporary Latin American Shakespeare films—Sangrador (2000), a Venezuelan adaptation of Macbeth, and Huapango (2004), a Mexican adaptation of Othello. These films are evocative in how they anatomize Latin America and reinvent Shakespeare according to a schema of individualized cultural and linguistic registers. Deploying Shakespeare in such applications, the films examine the intricacy of the relationship between established institutions and cultural consciousness, conflicting understandings of national identity, and the mixed fortunes of projects centered upon the reclamation of cultural authenticity. However, the films do not perform identical operations: they are different in kind and from each other, suggesting that no one model can approximate the operations of a discrete assembly of Shakespearean appropriations. The essay proposes that a “logic of multiplicity” captures Shakespeare’s many guises in Latin America, with the Bard seen as both indigenized and reflective of the “mixed” constitution of Latin America itself. While helpful, “multiplicity” obscures areas of difference, fissures in ideologies, and rifts in cultural practice. By recognizing Huapango and Sangrador as discrete interventions, we can attend to their discontinuous responses to histories and situations that recall the conditions of Latin American film production, processes of change, and the significance of Shakespeare on the global stage.

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