The Structure of Desire in Ghassan Salhab's "The River" (2022)

Saadawi, Ghalya. 2024. The Structure of Desire in Ghassan Salhab's "The River" (2022). In: Marwa Arsanios; Leon Filter and Leire Vergara, eds. A Cut Through the Screen: Struggles’ Reverberations in Cinema. Berlin: Archive Books and Dutch Art Institute. [Book Section] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

The River (2022), The Valley (2014) and The Mountain (2010), Ghassan Salhab’s three latest feature films, might be said to constitute a trilogy. They allegorise landscapes set in Lebanon, and maintain a relation between intimate and political conditions. The landscape is not merely a backdrop, nor a pretext; it is indeed that we need this animistic landscape for a particular allegory—often enigmatic, self-destructive, even tragic—to develop. What we mean by allegory becomes clear as this essay unfolds. For Walter Benjamin, allegory is an experience, or even an intuition, characterised by the transitory impermanence of the world. The form this takes is often fragmentary or obscure, riddled with signs within the physical world. Salhab’s film work, especially The River, is constructed on this allegorical relationship to the natural order, constructing a drama with myriad signs that far supersede the symbolic. In fact, rather than a trilogy, the films form three shards powered at their centre by a lack, all in some way figuring the filmmaker himself.

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Visual Cultures


October 2024Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2024 14:27

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10 May 2024 14:23


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