After-images and imagination: Image and nation in Bigas Luna’s Volavérunt | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4837
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4845



Bigas Luna’s critique of national stereotypes is by no means confined to his celebrated Iberian Trilogy. His on-screen exploration of such images can be viewed as the result of his earlier investigations on the nature of visual representation and the cinematic image. These investigations culminated in Bigas Luna’s most elaborate proposition on the scopic nature of the cinematic image, the horror film Angustia/ Anguish (1987), which he completed during his US sojourn. In the period thriller Volavérunt (1999), against the backdrop of an eighteenth-century political plot involving painter Francisco de Goya, high nobility and members of government, Bigas Luna put forward a broad array of propositions about image formation – from the pictorial to the cinematic and from the iconographic to the symbolic. Joan Ramon Resina’s notion of the ‘after-image’, which invokes the capacity of the visual image to reverberate in the mind after its retinal impact has ceased (hence fostering the creation of mental images, as anticipated by Paul Virilio and Gilles Deleuze), points to a cluster of theoretical possibilities based on the image’s temporal displacement, sequentiality, supersession and engagement. This article makes use of this notion to explore Bigas Luna’s meditation on the nature of images, and on the creation of complex images of the nation, in Volavérunt.


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