Desire, identity, sisterhood, betrayal, sex and sexuality run through the hysterical, dramatic, insightful and boldly colored films of one of Spain’s most revered and reviled cineastes, Pedro Almodóvar. Branded early on an enfant terrible of Spain’s film industry, Almodóvar has never been one to shy away from controversy or outrageous storytelling.
Born in 1949 in the region of La Mancha, Almodóvar embarked upon a seemingly quixotic quest when he moved to Madrid in 1968, determined to become a filmmaker. Although the film schools were closed in the early 1970s under orders of the Franco regime, the budding cineaste did not let that deter him and saved his money to buy a Super 8 camera. Starting off with short films, which gained popularity in Spain’s cultural underground, and positioned Almodóvar to become one of the most prominent members of Madrid’s hedonistic cultural movement La Movida of the late 70s.
Almodóvar’s first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom, the story of Pepi who is raped by a cop that catches her growing pot in her apartment and she exacts revenge by luring his masochistic wife away from him. Already, this early on and even though incredibly exaggerated, the thematic elements that would become so closely associated with Almodóvar were firmly established, as was one his most favorite actresses, Carmen Maura, who has appeared in many of his films.
From 1980 to 1984 the writer / director continued to make films that not only shattered taboo subjects but created new ones with topics such as dope addicted lesbian nuns (Dark Habits), pill popping desperate housewives and whoring teenaged boys (What Have I Done to Deserve This?) and a murderous matador who gets off by offing his victims at the height of their sexual arousal (Matador – starring Maura and a very young Antonio Banderas). 1986 marked something of a turning-point when Almodóvar and his younger brother Augustin created the production company El Deseo which has produced all of his films since 1987, starting with Law of Desire, a twisting tale of sexual confusion. One of his most famous films, the hilarious Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown from 1988, was adapted as a musical starring Patti LuPone.
Over the years, Almodóvar has swung from camp, to melodrama, to thrillers and to more intimate narratives with his canon of films including Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, The Flower of My Secret, All About My Mother, Talk to Her, The Skin I live In and I’m So Excited. With a vow to return to “the women’s drama,” the multi-award winning 66 year old director recently announced that he is developing a new screenplay titled Silencio with Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin and Ross de Palma sleighted to star. Viewers can be assured that with Almodóvar even silence will be loud and raucous.