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Alliance of the body

by Domínguez, María Elena

A new alliance is nigh. The alliance of the bodies. A new product shall be begotten. The son of man that will become flesh to pay with his body the forgiveness of sins. The miracle of life is about to come. The divine grace seems to be and act within it. But, let us not rush to situate the biblical story in this young girl so soon, even if the poster and the title of the film itself seems to authorize it. Nevertheless, we shall lay down our comment and we shall interrogate this story on this point. Is a Columbian adolescent up to such a comparison? Can her acts and actions be read y tuning with that of Mary, mother of Jesus, mother of mothers? The promotional poster and the supposed communion of the bodies … to what alliance does it respond to?

The location chosen for the development of the film is a small city to the north of Bogotá, Colombia. There, poverty and lack of opportunities wander the streets. The main character, María, is a young 17 year-old girl from a modest family who, to help pay for family expenses, works in a rose plantation. A family consisting of only women: a grandmother, her mother, her sister and Paquito her nephew. There is no father in sight.

Pregnancy catches her unawares and her nauseas make her have to stop the assembly line at the flower shop –where she daily strips the rose stems of thorns, roses destined for export. This leads her to resign after an argument with her supervisor. First apparition of the body as something that interrupts the production itinerary, its circulation, interposing between the given order and her work

The plot unfolds in a simple, linear way, without temporal shocks. The scenes and events seem to interlock but in fact only travel along the route of the story. The handheld camera -the documentary format- allows us to see every bit of the way. The cameras mingle… with the characters.

And a new job is offered to the unemployed María Álvares, the name of the new mule, and …here is her story. A story that will show the treatment that capitalist discourse makes of the bodies, its orifices and its erogenous zones.

This young Colombian, pregnant of a son without a father, in her eagerness to get a new life, alienates and surrenders the joy of her body to the Other, leaving aside all things related to love. No Joseph at hand to court her and accompany her in this new “adventure”. Instead of the ring of alliance of classical love, or of the verb made flesh –as happens with the Virgin- the body is reduced here to the alliance itself: our María gives it to the capitalist discourse that takes it in its theoretical dimension transforming it into the ideal means of transport of the illegal substance: a mule.

This topographical figure –the bull, the ring, the alliance- untiringly supports the film: the assembly line along which the product drains, and of course, the digestive tube trained with grapes and later, bearer of the prized “pellets”.

The ‘fake’ discourse eliminates, raises the barrier of structural impossibility. There we have a treatment of the bodies that leaves castration aside. In the “mule” you can see to what point the corporal orifices yield to the pleasure of the Other. These erogenous zones – that have become erogenous due to the loss of object- are valued according to their use, the market and can be crossed, circumscribed without loss, even when the body can be discarded as a vessel in order to recover the prized merchandize. Maria’s “friend”, Lucy, dead nobody knows if because a pellet burst in her interior or because the dealers open her like a can to extract the merchandize, is merely a sinister example of this.

Even vital basic needs are crushed by the empire of fateful market consumerism. Maria accepts submitting to this. The paternal function leaves no trace in her body: she returns the product: in the airplane bathroom, if the pellet escapes from under, she immediately reintroduces it through her mouth. The merchandize circulates around her body with no loss: recyclable.

Maria, slave to the contemporary master, travels from her native Colombia to New York, with sixty two drug pellets in her stomach … and her son to come.

María, all of her is alliance. Because of her pregnancy she avoids the police scan and gets into the country. But her body, dull to love, will it manage to cradle a son?

We will hear no more of her, only her transit through the airport in the final scene. An advert, strategically placed on the wall reads: "It’s what’s inside that counts".