This is in reference to the Argentinian-Spanish film The Secret In Their Eyes.

I would like to understand what the relevance of the typewriter and its malfunctioning was to the film.


From Words on Screen by Michel Chion:

In The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos, Juan Jose Campanella, 2009, based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri), Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin), a retired attorney who is writing a novel, uses a typewriter missing the A. Toward the end of the film, he finds a notebook on which he had scrawled TEMO (I fear) in capital letters. Seeing his typewritten text into which he had added all the As by hand, he does the same thing on the cover word — and TEMO becomes TE AMO (I love you); in this way he realizes his feelings for the heroine. The worldwide success of this film and especially this scene — even though hardly anyone uses manual typewriters with missing letters — strongly suggests the symbolic staying power of this machine as it has been embraced by cinema.

One letter's absence can indiscriminately affect all the words that include it. In a real way the missing letter imprints its absence, calling all the more attention to its place within the most varied words. As the letter shows an empathetic indifference to the content, the indifference of signifier to signified, it embodies the insistence, permanence, and in a way the fidelity of the symptom. But also, in The Secret in Their Eyes, we can see the magnitude of the change one single letter can make, allowing the character to discover the love within.

This obviously differs from the literary genre called the lipogram, illustrated by Georges Perec's novel La Disparition, in which the author imposed on himself the constraint never to use the most common letter in French, e. In The Secret in Their Eyes it's just a blank space that replaces a letter.

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