5309 - The Seventh Wonder: Monsters in the Borderlands

Since its beginnings several decades ago, border theory has made scholars increasingly aware of the presence of border narratives and tropes in thousands of stories past and present. Whereas Gloria Alzandúa set the scene for an understanding of the border that went well beyond its geopolitical dimensions in her description of the borderlands as a metaphor for all sorts of human interactions, other Chicano scholars have tried to keep discussions of the border within the limits of a very specific type of experience, particularly, in their case, that of the inhabitants or users of the border between Mexico and the United States and the borderlands that have historically emerged around that line. Within cultural studies and, specifically, film studies, however, the process has proven irreversible and borders continue to proliferate even in the most unexpected places, carrying with them connotations not only of transnational conflict but also of the transforming experience of contact with the more or less loosely defined other.

In this paper I want to explore some of these issues through an analysis of the film Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010), a cheaply made independent movie whose action is set in an “infected zone” populated by aliens. This zone occupies the Northern part of Mexico and is figured in the movie as a peculiar borderland which the protagonist U.S. couple must cross in order to return to their country. Mixing science fiction, road movie, war film and even romantic comedy conventions, Monsters displays an uncanny awareness of the realities of the borderlands even though it apparently has no statement to make about their cultural and political dynamics. The immediacy of its pseudo-documentary approach to filming both favors and complicates the interpretation of its border metaphors, if the latter can indeed be said to exist at all. In this, the movie becomes symptomatic of the pervasiveness of border consciousness in our culture and the tensions and contradictions that permeate border theory and analysis.

Keywords: borderland, border theory, geopolitical reality, film genre, metaphor

Author: Deleyto, Celestino (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain / Spanien)


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