Dissonant Music as Flypaper: Capitalist Sonic Unconscious in a Bolivian Newsreel from 1970

Roberto Pareja


I will discuss the ironic link between sound and image in a segment taken from a newsreel directed by Bolivian filmmaker Jorge Ruiz in 1970. I will analyze how the film’s soundtrack contests the image-movement. Shot during the brief de facto presidency of Afredo Ovando Candia (1969-1970), the segment shows president Candia in a visit to a mining project. On one side, the narrative exalts industrial modernization, the projects’ exemplarity, stressing the benefits to the workers; on the other, ironically, the soundtrack chosen for this segment of the newsreel questions the ideology of development inherent in the narrative. Combining Theodor W. Adorno’s theory of dissonance in modern music and Jacques Lacan’s re-reading of key Marxist concepts, I suggest that the film’s soundtrack works as flypaper that captures sonically the capitalist unconscious, particularly the fears of a workers’ revolution. The dissonant sounds point to unconscious fears, and at the same time, critiques the worker epic built by developmentalist ideology, for which the “obrero” is an anonymous hero contributing to the country’s economic independence.

Adorno - Lacan - capitalist unconscious - dissonance in modern music - newsreels - Jorge Ruiz - Bolivia - ideology - developmentalism - industrial infrastructure