Almodóvar, Pedro


Almodóvar, Pedro
b. 1949, Ciudad Real
   Filmmaker
   After early experimental work in Super-8 format, Almodóvar directed his first full feature in 1979, Pepi, Luci, Bom, y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom, and All Those Other Girls). This film, together with Laberinto de pasiones (Labyrinth of Passion) (1982), identified Almodóvar with the Madrid Movida, projecting through an increasingly stylized Pop-Art miseen- scene a post-modernist vision of contemporary urban life. Almodóvar's aesthetic is shaped by elements borrowed from Spanish popular cinema, from comics, fashion magazines and boleros (a type of popular dance tune), as well as from the great comedies and melodramas of the Hollywood cinema. The films are characterized formally by colour, dynamism and visual flair, and, in their subject matter, by irreverent satire of sexual and social orthodoxies. Almodóvar's films have had spectacular success both in Spain and abroad, appealing to a wide variety of audiences, minority and mainstream. Their treatment, above all, of sexuality—both conventional and dissident—has converted Almodóvar into a cult figure. His films explore both the peaks and troughs of desire, often focusing on the solitude and despair of failed relationships in narratives that thrive on emotional intensity and excess. In this respect he is the Spanish heir to the great Hollywood director Douglas Sirk. But native Spanish traditions—for example, popular 1960s comedies directed by Pedro Lazaga or Mariano Ozores, neo-realist satires by Berlanga—have also left their unmistakable traces. In the early and middle stages of
   Almodóvar's career his films were distinguished by the appearances in prominent roles of Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas. No scatterbrained Almodóvar girl", Carmen Maura has often provided in these films a sharp focus for the plausible treatment— through both comedy and melodrama—of issues affecting Spanish women. In ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (What Have I Done to Deserve This?) (1984), a film largely refocusing the drives and patterns of indigenous neo-realist cinema, the Carmen Maura role provides a visual register for the pressures faced by working-class women. In Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown) (1988), to date Spain's most commercially successful film, with a host of awards to its name, the middle-class, professional woman's problems—above all in love—are addressed. Antonio Banderas" contribution to Almodóvar's films has given varied and complex representation to the constraints and vicissitudes of a masculinity both liberated and in crisis. In ¡Atame! (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!) (1989), he portrays its darker side. In La ley del deseo (The Law of Desire) (1987), one of the many films concentrating on male homosexuality, he embodies the passionate sensibility of gay desire. The laws of desire continue to feature as key areas of interest in Almodóvar's subsequent films, Tacones lejanos (High Heels), Kika, and La flor de mi secreto (The Flower of my Secret), all of which maintain, additionally, their Pop-Art mixture of high and low, straight and camp, comic and melodramatic aesthetics.
   Further reading
   - García de León, M.A. and Maldonado, T. (1989) Pedro Almodóvar: La otra España cañí, Ciudad Real: Diputación de Ciudad Real.
   - Holguín, A. (1994) Pedro Almodóvar, Madrid: Cátedra.
   - Smith, P.J. (1994) Desire Unlimited, London: Verso (an important study by a leading theorist of gay aesthetics).
   - Strauss, F. (1994) Pedro Almodóvar, un cine visceral, Madrid: Ediciones de El País.
   - Vidal, N. (1988) The Films of Pedro Almodóvar, Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura.
   PETER WILLIAM EVANS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Almodovar, Pedro — (1949 )    If there is a continuous line in Almodóvar s long career as a filmmaker, it is the need to express an indomitably independent outlook and a refusal to compromise on his vision. This impulse has paid off in a series of very… …   Guide to cinema

  • Almodovar, Pedro — (1949 )    If there is a continuous line in Almodóvar s long career as a filmmaker, it is the need to express an indomitably independent outlook and a refusal to compromise on his vision. This impulse has paid off in a series of very… …   Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema

  • Almodóvar, Pedro — ► (n. 1949) Director de cine español. Películas: Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (1979), Laberinto de pasiones (1982), ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (1984), La ley del deseo (1987), Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Almodóvar, Pedro —  (1949–) Spanish filmmaker …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

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