When going over Pedro Almodovar’s cinematography, various topics are easily distinguishable: women, sex, fetichism, religion, family and homosexuality. All of it approached from the scope of a very talented personality, who brings a tragic sense of life to his work, for which he has been defined by some as the most prolific, independent and symbolic Spanish film director.
Despite being raised by a Spanish catholic family who aspired for him to grow up to become a priest, Pedro became interested in movies at a very young age. He likes to remember the chocolate candy he use to snack on that came with pictures Hollywood’s celebrities, “That was my first sticky and greasy contact with a universe thats was obviously not Manchego”.
He was so determined to be a part of the movie making universe that at only 16 and with an empty wallet, he moved to Madrid where he took on various jobs and eventually learned writing, interpretation and shooting technics. “At first at though the actor took care of everything. Late I learned that there was a narrator in front of the camera so I decided that that was what I wanted to be”.
From Super 8 to worldly renowned film director. Almodovar’s career began with Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Average Girls, or Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom), his first full-length film that became a success for being openly liberal. He would then go on to explore topics such as homosexuality, mental disorders; all of it with a very distinguishable kitsch aesthetics, outrageous humor and explicit sexuality. Almodovar would establish himself as a daring film maker in Spain’s big screen.
Although his movies often come out as autobiographical, it’s actually Spanish society which serves as his endless source of inspiration. Society’s taboos take the front seat in his films but although he approaches such issues in a critical manner, he never does so in a way that becomes to serious or boring. There’s always humor to be found in almost every scene, every situation; a satirical approach due to his affinity with parody, pop-art and dark sense of humor.
In Almodovar’s films, the main plot is only the tip if the ice-berg. Nothing is left to chance and every scene, every moment has been previously designed and thought of. Whether we’re dealing with desperate housewives, prostitutes, travesties, pregnant nones or junkies, they are all only the vehicle taking the spectator through a journey of reflection.
It’s not easy being part of Almodovar’s films. He’s known for his attention to detail. Emma Suárez, leading actress in Julieta, remembers how Almodovar went over every single book on a bookshelf in the background to make sure they were the “right books”. Elena Alaya, from La piel que habito (The skin I live in), says Almodovar is the only director who knows and is able to tell you “what each character is thinking, feeling and wanting every second of every scene”.
He’s so keen to detail that he has won two Academy Awards ( best foreign film and best original script); five BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, seven Premios Goya an many others.
“I feel that my stories are be richer and more entertaining with women”, said Almodovar to the New York Times, and he couldn’t be more right. He’s known for being able to create the most memorable female characters in the film industry — the fact that he grew up with his mother, sister and a lot of female neighbors may have something to do with it. “(…) In Spain, women are very energetic; they are very expressive when talking. They’re very straight forward, less afraid of making a fool of themselves and with a lot less prejudice”
Almodovar shows women in a very different light. His approach to female beauty is not constrained to young women but based on who ever the camera chooses. “He doesn’t like pretending. If he wants a 40 year old actress, he’ll get a 40 year old actress”, Marisa Paredes, who’s worked with him during his entire career, commented.
There’s no other secret, for a good director, other than being true to your past and your present. “There are no explicit messages in my films, except those of freedom and self determination. The trick is to keep your eyes open (…) Reality gives you the first line, the second is up to you”. Such are the statements of a man that enjoy venturing into the unknown and reinvent himself with every new production. “One should not favor success but risk”.Read more International Success Story