Alas de Mariposa (Butterfly Wings, 1991)
Directed by Juanma Bajo Ulloa
Written by Eduardo Bajo Ulloa and Juanma Bajo Ulloa
Starring: Silvia Munt, Fernando Valverde, Susana García, Laura Vaquero
“Alas de Mariposa”’s opening scene takes place in a hospital’s maternity ward. There Carmen (Silvia Munt) has given birth to a baby girl called Ami. Far from being happy though, Carmen feels disappointed for not having brought a male offspring into the world. Six years later, Ami has grown up an introvert little girl who loves drawing beautiful pictures of colourful butterflies. Ami’s happy and uneventful day-to-day is altered by the arrival of a baby-brother – the first boy to be born in the family in decades. This new situation creates an emotional gap between Ami and her sometimes aggressive mother, who cruelly ignores her hypersensitive daughter. But Ami’s subsequent actions in order to gain back her mother’s attention produce terrible consequences that will lead the whole family to a tragic point of no return.
Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s first long film thrilled audiences and festival juries alike. This heavily tragic family drama differs from other films thanks to its Gothic style and fairy tale archetypal characters, both Bajo Ulloa’s trademarks. “Alas de Mariposa” gets through to diverse audiences, as the pictorial beauty of its shots and sequences somehow help endure the extreme harshness of its story. The plot develops as a poem, full of repetitions and symbols that turn darker as the film progresses. But the most attractive element in the film is arguably Ami’s character (Susana García / Laura Vaquero). Left aside like a broken toy after her baby brother’s arrival Ami undergoes a transformation, caused mainly by her desperate yearning for motherly love. And we witness her imperfect metamorphosis, like that of a beautiful butterfly that has lost her wings and becomes one of nature’s monstrous creations.
Short documentary clip on Versión Española, RTVE (Spanish, no subtitles):