Faux Fur and Fool’s Gold: Amalia Ulman’s "El Planeta"

Faux Fur and Fool’s Gold: Amalia Ulman’s
Amalia Ulman and Ale Ulman in El Planeta. Photo by Rob KulisekIn the opening scene of Amalia Ulman’s feature debut, El Planeta, Leo (Ulman) parleys with a potential client—her first and only—over the price of a blow job. She wonders aloud if this particular service, which would garner her a measly 20 euros, is truly equal to a book she’s been eyeing that costs the same. Meanwhile, hanging in the backdrop like a rear projection screen is a stretch of kitschy wallpaper depicting a colonial-era merchant ship over placid ocean waters, mockingly hearkening to the glory days of the Spanish Empire. El Planeta takes place in the northern Spanish town of Gijón, a former industrial hub whose economy today, per Ulman, relies heavily on tourism. As Leo walks home from her rendezvous, wipe transitions of different shapes, like those popularized in silent films, convey the passage of
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