This near-silent black and white film from Argentina tells the story of a city that has lost its voice, stolen by Mr. TV, and the attempts of a small family to win the voice back. Similar in design to early German expressionist films.

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10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Son of Mr TV
Alejandro Urdapilleta ...
Mr TV
...
Nurse
...
The Inventor
Florencia Raggi ...
The Voice
...
Ana
Jonathan Sandor ...
Tomás
Raúl Hochman ...
The Mouse Man
Ricardo Merkin ...
The Grandfather
Carlos Piñeyro ...
Doctor Y
Camila Offerman ...
Fairy Girl
Alejandro Regueiro ...
Silhouette Man 1
Christian Amat ...
Silhouette Man 2
Federico Miri ...
Silhouette Man 3
Paulina Sapir ...
Girl Dressed in White
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Storyline

This near-silent black and white film from Argentina tells the story of a city that has lost its voice, stolen by Mr. TV, and the attempts of a small family to win the voice back. Similar in design to early German expressionist films.

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A city without a voice...

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Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

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Release Date:

19 April 2007 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

The Aerial  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

It is the second feature film by acclaimed Argentinean director Esteban Sapir. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cómo se hizo: La antena (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Rumba Antena
by Esteban Sapir/Nico Cota (as Nicolas Cota)
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User Reviews

 
La Antena
21 September 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Some would argue that Argentinean director Esteban Sapir's La Antena is an exercise in anachronistic futility; that, while the silent films to which Sapir's pays homage were at the cutting edge of cinema when they were made, they are outdated today, leaving La Antena a meaningless oddity.

I would disagree. Fervently. La Antena melds the conventions of the silent film with 21st century technology, making it the ultimate exercise in post-modern film-making.

The film is set in the timeless "The City Without a Voice", so called because the citizens have been rendered speechless by Mr. TV, a dictator/media mogul with his hair painted on. The City resembles the titular one in Fritz Lang's seminal Metropolis (1927), perhaps 100 years before that film. It is all expressionist skyscrapers, TV aerials, and animated billboards.

The citizens of the City are mollified by La Voz (The Voice), the only person with the gift of speech. Her face perpetually shrouded by a hood (kept on even when she is naked), La Voz is forced to sing on Mr. TV's television network. But when Mr. TV concocts a plan to steal the written word as well, La Voz and her eyeless son join forces with a renegade family in an attempt to return the freedom of speech to the people.

La Antena is nothing but pure cinema. Burdening himself with the conventions of the silent film, Sapir has to rely upon images to tell his story. There is sound, most notably in the almost continuous score by Leo Sujatovich. It evokes the best of silent movie music, as well as ingenuously working itself into the film's diegesis, such as the beeping of car horns, or the rhythmic ra-ta-tat-tat of gunfire. And, underlying the whole film is a familiar whirring, as if it were being shown on an ancient projector.

There is a fair amount of dialogue as well. But instead of using intertitles, Sapir has the characters' words appear in the frame. They are larger or smaller, filling the screen or hovering meekly in the air, depending on what is being said. Think a more imaginative version of the subtitles in Night Watch (2004).

Thankfully, the words don't distract from the images. Which is very fortunate indeed, because La Antena boasts some of the most creative and original images we've seen in a long time, all captured by Cristian Cottet's sumptuous black-and-white photography. There are the expressionist cityscapes. The hooded singer and her eyeless son. There is the city's abandoned aerial, which looks like the decayed remains of some colossal spider. And there's the sinister Dr. Y, whose jabbering mouth is displayed on a television screen attached to his face.

La Antena has been criticised for relying too much on its imagery, while skimping on the allegorical depth. But, again, I would disagree. It is true that the sudden appearance of a mind-control machine shaped like a swastika, or the eyeless boy seemingly crucified on a Star of David, feels out of place, a tad over the top in what is otherwise merely a well-crafted fairy tale.

But the lack of overt symbols (the two previous examples aside) works in the film's favour. It allows us to make up our own minds: to decide whether to infer political meaning, to see La Antena as an allegory for fascism, the danger of capitalist monopolies, and the power and responsibility of the media; or to just take the film at face value, as a visually stunning adventure through a world simultaneously unique and familiar.

The sacrifice of explicit depth in favour of unique imagery may seem like a compromise. But, really, when a film looks as good as this, it's hard to care. There is more imagination and artistry in every frame of La Antena than Hollywood can shake a derivative stick at. Evoking films almost 100 years old might be futile, but in doing so, Sapir may be showing us what is lacking in the films of today. He may be telling us that it is time for another artistic revolution. And he may be right.


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