Sex, Church And Women: Pedro Almodovar's Guide To The World

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Sex, Church And Women: Pedro Almodovar's Guide To The World
Sex, Church And Women: Pedro Almodovar's Guide To The World
Video: Sex, Church And Women: Pedro Almodovar's Guide To The World
Video: PEDRO ALMODÓVAR and his INFLUENCES 2023, February

THE NEW FILM BY PEDRO ALMODOVAR "JULIET" RELEASED FOR RENT - a little tragedy based on the stories of Alice Munroe. The film has collected many elements of the director's style, although it is not quite usual at least in its calm, even tired intonation. Film critic Andrei Kartashov compiled a small dictionary of the universe of Almodovar in order to understand the key themes and heroes of the cult director.


Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas comes from the country in which the term "macho" was coined, and in the dictionary his portrait could become an illustration of the corresponding article. But we do not love him for this: Banderas is an actor of a modern warehouse, inclined to treat with irony the testosterone aesthetics and problems, and in this Almodovar is his faithful ally. Banderas has starred more often with the director than any other male artist, taking roles from the gay terrorist in Labyrinth of Passions to the mad surgeon in The Skin I Live In.


You can find references to Spanish cinema in Almodovar, but first of all the history of cinema for him is the history of Hollywood. His upbringing of feelings was film noir and paintings by Douglas Sirk, who also filmed colorful melodramas on themes not accepted in large studios. High Heels is inspired by Imitation of Life, Almodovar named an entire film after Mankiewicz's All About Eve, and he named Shirley MacLaine in Billy Wilder's Apartment as a model for all of his comedic heroines. Pedro's love for Hollywood is mutual: he won an Oscar twice, and once for the best screenplay, which is rarely the case with Europeans.


In general, giving preference, of course, to melodrama, Almodovar loves to explore the mechanics of different genres. While maintaining a recognizable and uniform author's style, he managed to achieve universalism: in the director's filmography there are melodrama, comedy ("Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown", "I am very excited"), romcom ("Tie me up!"), Detective ("High heels"), thriller ("Living Flesh"), horror ("The Skin I Live In").



Almodovar is one of the type of male directors who are more interested in stories about women, like, for example, Fassbinder and von Trier. In the title of his first full meter - a listing of female names - "Pepi, Lucy, Bom and the rest of the girls", the new film is called a single "Juliet": Almodovar has stories that concentrate on one bright heroine ("Why do I need this?"), and multi-figured compositions (a monastery in "The Indiscreet Charm of Vice", a multi-generational female family in "Return").

In general, a sense of female collectivity is present in one way or another in most of his works. For more than thirty years, Almodovar has worked with many of Spain's leading actresses. His favorite performers are Carmen Maura, Cecilia Roth, Rossi de Palma, Penelope Cruz and Chus Lampreave, who starred in eight of his films.


The films of the postmodernist Almodovar are always aware of the space behind the scenes, and that is why he plays with frame plots so often. Another way to wink at the viewer or yourself is with a cameo. Just as Hitchcock's films cannot do without the author himself in the frame, so Almodovar's brother and producer Agustin appears on the screen in every picture. In "I'm Very Excited", where the cast is made up of the beloved artists of Almodovar of different generations, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz appear in small roles of airport employees.


Once on the red carpet, Pedro walked in a blue jacket and yellow boots, but over time he settled down and now, as expected, wears a tuxedo. This has to be done quite often: Almodovar is one of the members of the so-called Cannes pool, his films, including "Juliet" this year, competed in the competition of the main film festival of the world five times.Despite his status, Almodovar has never received the Palme d'Or, but he has Cannes prizes for directing (All About My Mother) and script (Return).



Few portray gender as such an unstable phenomenon: Almodovar's men sing on the cabaret stage in stockings and wigs, and women fight bulls in the arena. The sexuality of his characters includes the full range of the Kinsey scale and an unlimited array of fetishes. But the director is not important about the orientation and gender identity as such - they are only a consequence of the absolute freedom inherent in all of his characters. This is especially true for the early films of Almodovar, in which the energy of emancipation after liberation from the fascist dictatorship is felt: “Pepi, Lucy, Bom and the rest of the girls”, “Labyrinth of Passions”, “The Law of Desire”.

Movies to movies

When Almodovar quotes films, he does it not because he wants to quote something, but because for him cinema is a natural continuation of life, which means that it gets on the screen along with everything else. The way in which ordinary reality is combined with the second reality of the screen is one of his constant themes: many of Almodovar's characters are filmmakers. The hero of "Bad Education" transfers his own life to the screen, editing it along the way, a blind director acts in "Open Embrace" (who seems to be shooting "Women on the Edge …" in flashbacks), and a rather outstanding itself a surreal short film about an incredibly shrinking person.


Cabaret, B movies, pop music, high heels and leopard-print coats are the most characteristic elements of the Almodovar universe. Moderation and good taste are not among the strengths of this author, who deliberately prefers the aesthetics of opera, both theatrical and soap opera. From the first there are titles like "Labyrinth of Passions", from the second - drawn, as if in a cheap TV series, the backdrop in "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." Besides, kitsch is a frequent companion of queer.




Almodovar said that he and Penelope Cruz are like lovers, only they do not sleep together. He also claimed that he saved the actress from Hollywood, where her career at first was rather pale in terms of the quality of the proposed roles. Almodovar sees in Cruz something that is difficult for Americans - a nervous Latin sensuality, thanks to which such a character as a nun, who became pregnant and contracted AIDS from a transsexual ("All About My Mother"), can become convincing. In total, Cruz played in five films directed by the director, although only twice - the main role (in "The Return" and "Open Embrace"). She is almost officially the muse of the late Almodovar, so their collaboration will surely continue.


After the death of General Franco, who ruled Spain for nearly forty years in the format of a soft fascist dictatorship, Madrid was a special place. A generation of artists, writers, intellectuals and filmmakers came out of the underground into the world, found that the public was ready to listen to them, and spoke in full voice. The phenomenon was called movida madrileña (loosely translated - "madrid movement"), and Almodovar was its key character. Sometimes he is briefly brought to other regions (not outside Spain, however), but most often the director remains faithful to his beloved city and shoots films in the capital.



With the actress, who will become the muse of most of his early films, Almodovar met even before he began to study cinema, when they participated together in an experimental theater troupe. Of the first seven films directed by Carmen, Maura was not in only one: she began by playing a teenager in Pepi, Lucy, Bom and the rest of the girls (the actress was 35) and reached the pinnacle of her imperturbable eccentric style in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown., along the way earning the status of a gay icon for the role of a transsexual woman in the "Law of Desire."Maura and Almodovar quarreled for a long time after "Women on the brink …"; their reconciliation was marked by a film with the appropriate title "The Return", where Maura, not without self-irony, played a grandmother who appeared from the other world.



The black genre is one of the main plot models of Almodovar, especially the late one, while the Spaniard, of course, overturns the noir clichés instead of simply reproducing them. For example, in Bad Upbringing, a man takes the place of the classic femme fatale: Almodovar uses the sexist stereotype of old Hollywood, in which noir was perhaps the most masculine genre, to talk about how fluid and ambiguous modern masculinity is.


Sex in Almodovar is always present as the main motivation of the characters (this is more often) or at least a plot detail, takes various forms and is much discussed. Among the practices investigated in the director's filmography are heterosexual, homosexual and incest ("The Return"). Almodovar is vital, and his eros is not only associated with thanatos ("Matador"), but also necessarily triumphs over him: the heroine of "Talk to Her" is literally lifted by sex from the dead.


Along with the church, the family is one of the foundations of Franco's ultra-conservative regime. It is clear that Almodovar deconstructs this institution: for example, in "Why do I need this?" the main character's family is depicted as a set of unpleasant characters who are dangerous to live not only with each other, but with anyone in general. In some places, as in All About My Mother, surrogate families are formed instead of real families. But this theme sounded most powerful in The Return, where blood ties are the most significant. Most often, Almodovar explores the relationship between parents and children ("High Heels", "All About My Mother", "Juliet").



In the author's universe, which is largely composed of people of creative professions (writers, directors, musicians, dancers - there is anyone), the theater still occupies a special place. The scene excites Almodovar as a space that is obviously close to cinematography, more artificial and at the same time more authentic and immediate. The theater takes center stage in the film "All About My Mother", inspired by the "Premiere" by John Cassavetes.


The palette of Almodovar can be different - from the screaming pop-art riot of "Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown" to the cool colors "Talk to her" and "The skin in which I live", where the main paint is white. The general rule: the later, the less Almodovar is inclined to twist the "saturation" and "brightness" parameters to the maximum, as he did in his youth. Now the director prefers to work with color accents on a flat background: in Juliet, for example, it is a yellow car or a bright red tattoo on the hero's shoulder.


A rare Spanish director since the time of Buñuel and Dali has bypassed the holy Catholic Church. Almodovar's clergy lead a vicious life, or at least not alien to carnal pleasures. So, for example, in The Immodest Charm of Vice, the inhabitants of the monastery, out of boredom, explore various sins, and the abbess, a drug addict, leads them. The plot of "Bad Education" is completely built around sexual violence in a Catholic school for boys, and Almodovar sympathetically depicts not only the victim, but also the rapist - which is not only scandalous, but, of course, very Christian.

Black humor

The funny in Almodovar is not always easy to separate from the terrible. Some scenes, such as "Talk to her" in the retelling sound excessive to the point of absurdity, but there is nothing comic in this film. On the contrary, when Almodovar shoots a comedy, then most likely it will not do without murders; in this he inherits the traditions of Spanish cinema of the middle of the last century, where black comedy was the leading genre.The most egregious example of the Spaniard's ideas of the funny is "Kika" and a satirically presented scene of such a serious and terrible thing as rape.

Photos: Warner Bros., Warners España, Fígaro Films, Laurenfilm, El Deseo, Warner Sogefilms

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