In This Article Pedro Almodóvar

  • Introduction
  • Critical Monographs and Anthologies
  • Bio-Filmographies
  • Interviews
  • Online Resources
  • Almodóvar as a Writer
  • Auteurism
  • The City
  • Transnationality, Global Projection, and Entrepreneurship
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Melodrama, Love, and Desire
  • Music

Cinema and Media Studies Pedro Almodóvar
by
Cristina Martínez-Carazo, Morgan Smith
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0279

Introduction

Eccentric, innovative, kitsch, subversive, transgressive, genius, unconventional, postmodern, independent—Pedro Almodóvar (b. 1949), arguably Spain’s most acclaimed director, producer, and screenwriter, has become an international icon of the transformative spirit that impregnated Spanish cultural production in the stagnant years under and after Franco’s dictatorship. He achieved international recognition without precedent, bursting onto the scene during the years of La Movida Madrileña, a transgressive and hedonistic cultural movement born in Spain in the 1980s. Madrid became the capital of this dominant new cultural scene and one of the axes of Almodóvar’s life and art due to its openness and vibrancy. Regarding genre and style, Almodóvar has formulated a unique cinematic language that combines several genres—comedy, melodrama, thriller, noir—often in the same film, with a colorful and fragmented cinematic style associated with postmodern aesthetics. Filmmakers within the US studio system such as Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, and Billy Wilder, in addition to the Spanish Luis Buñuel, Italy’s neorealist Luchino Visconti, and the French auteur George Franju, among others, have left clear traces on his films. Equally relevant is his adscription to camp and kitsch aesthetics, visible in the reappropriation and reinterpretation of the cultural markers of Francoist Spain in his earlier films: flamenco, bullfighting, and Catholic imagery. His thematic universe rotates around identity, gender fluidity, homosexuality, transsexuality, and the female universe, always challenging the conventional male and female binary order. At the core of these complex relationships, desire and passion act as powerful forces that dominate human beings. Excess, transgression, provocation, and deviation from the norm shape his irreverent yet artistic universe, characterized by intricate narratives, marginality, self-referentiality, and an altogether unique mélange of color, music, and costume. This uniqueness allows for the definition of Almodóvar as an auteur, although the unity of his worldview and aesthetics does not preclude him from making change a key part of his filmography. Critics and academics of Spanish cinema concur on the key role that Almodóvar’s films have played in the redefinition of Spanish national identity. His work clearly demonstrates a spirit of tolerance, artistic and ideological liberty, and sexual freedom that have granted him recognition at a European and global level, as demonstrated by his receipt of the European Film Academy Achievement in World Cinema Award in 2013 and two Academy Awards, in 1999 and 2002, among many other awards. The transnational nature of his films at aesthetic, economic, and thematic levels, as well as the inclusion of international cast members, has converted Almodóvar into a world phenomenon. His cinematic language (fragmentation, music, camera work, lighting), the international projection of his production company, El Deseo, in its commercial strategies as well as in its co-productions, along with his approach to themes of global relevance, give his films an international dimension that has been invaluable to film industries the world over.

General Overviews: Surveys of Spanish Cinema, 2000–Present

All the Spanish film surveys and edited volumes listed below include at least one article or chapter on Almodóvar. This selection of surveys provides an excellent starting point to explore Almodóvar’s work in the context of Spanish cinema, and to understand his impact on the history of Spanish film. The following surveys, broken down into two sections, Solo-Authored Surveys and Edited Volumes, address Almodóvar’s filmography within different analytical frameworks.

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