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A meditation on the notion of return, Pedro Almodóvar's 2006 Volver focuses on the modern experience of love, memory, and identity in a manner that is at once indebted to the past and resolutely contemporary. Some films represent the ancient world directly, drawing on historical or literary sources, but many that focus on contemporary narratives can be shown to be inspired—directly or not—by ancient myths whose history is so influential that they pervade many of our notions about the human experience. In particular, insofar as Homer's poem is the foundational text in Western culture of the very idea of homecoming—or nostos, to use the ancient Greek term—the treatment of the homecoming theme in Almodóvar's film parallels, and significantly diverges from, that of the Odyssey. Like the Odyssey, Volver places love and family at the center of its narrative, but, unlike its ancient predecessor, which tells the story of a husband's return to his wife after a long separation, Almodóvar's vision of nostos privileges family ties over romantic love and presents the bond between husbands and wives as an obstacle to the characters' homecoming. Volver thus offers a resolutely original and feminist perspective on love and homecoming that centers on the relationships between mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends.


Monica S. Cyrino


Palgrave Macmillan


New York



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Screening Love and Sex in the Ancient World

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