Michel Franco: Auteur of Violence

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Virginia Tech


Michel Franco’s works provide his audience with a conceptualization of modern (mostly Mexican) society through an exploration of violence and trauma as they affect the individual on both personal and public levels. Using the filmic auteur theory as my basis for an exploration of his body of work, I examine his use of spatial theory, trauma, spectatorial complicity, and neoliberalism as contributors to violence in the present day, both within a Mexican and universal context. Within his films, violence is demonstrated as resultant of his characters’ environments and larger systems at work, reflected in both the spaces they inhabit and their individual selfpresentations after surviving traumatic events. Ultimately, these works lead his audiences to moments of self-reflection regarding their own involvement with mediatic violence and how they assist in its perpetuation. I have taken this thesis project as an opportunity to explore each of his films as unique parts of a collective whole, in the hopes of providing a cohesive analysis of each while also demonstrating their impact as they are connected to one another thematically. Franco’s ability to explore contemporary, similar themes in a multitude of forms places him in the position of a filmic auteur, one arguably enjoyed by his contemporaries but not indicative of the generation of Mexican directors who preceded him. Thus, he simultaneously ushers in a new form of contemporary Mexican cinema. Ultimately, his explorations of trauma are resultant of a discussion of mediatic violence in contemporary society.



Mexico City, Michel Franco, film