The Works Of Pedro Almodovar Film Studies Essay

Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish film-maker, has always been considered in Hollywood to be always a "woman's director" (Maddison 2000). This definition actually connoted latent homosexuality and female-identified melodrama. However, this characteristic of Almodóvar's works seems a bit superfluous, as his films are best known for the combination of reality and fiction, extraordinary messages and unique plots.

Fiction and reality go together in the films by Pedro Almodóvar. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between them, to decide what comes from true to life and that which was the play of director's imagination. One thing is true for sure: all films by Pedro Almodóvar are united by the same central issue: the question of identity (Marsh 2006). He engages this problem in many different ways from the initial work "Pepi, Luci, Bom y las otras chicas del montón" (1980) to his latest film "Volver (Return)" (2006). This is a key feature of Pedro Almodóvar which is regularly depicted through the motif of writing. He writes reality into existence and thereby changes it through fiction. Thus, the film-maker interrogates all varieties of subject formation and subjectivity. The films of Pedro Almodóvar abound in "characters who adopt multiple pseudonyms, the repeated images of typewriters, the info transmitted through found notes, the eerie presence of ghostwriters" (Marsh 2006).

The film "ABOUT My Mother" ("Todo Sobre Mi Madre" (1999)) is among the finest types of interrelation of reality and fiction. The main topic of the film is the definition of sexual identity. This point is a very important one, as Pedro Almodóvar never introduces exclusively homosexual or heterosexual characters. On the contrary, the characters of the film perform their identities therefore it is hard to define what identity will be chosen by them at any moment. This point exists not only in "ABOUT My Mother", however in a great many other works of Pedro Almodóvar (such as with his earlier work "La Ley Deseo" (1986), for example).

Pedro Almodóvar subverts identity through our body. The director rejects the idea a person's identity, his / her essence is contained in a unitary organ, such as heart, for instance. On the contrary, the combination of physical appearance alongside with inner content defines a certain gender of any person. Thus, Pedro Almodóvar introduces a fairly ironic scene when Agrado, the transsexual character of the film, gives a rather comic and in once frank confession, giving everything of the functions with her body that lead to her present feminine gender. Pedro Almodóvar rather boldly undermines the Christian learning that presents human body as an inviolable and essential representation of being. The film-maker goes further and subverts identity. He proposes the body as a niche site of imitation.

According to Pedro Almodóvar (2010) the main issues of his film "All About My Mother" include woman's ability to pretend, wounded motherhood and the spontaneous solidarity among women (Almodóvar 2010). Although the film is a fiction, Manuela's the truth is very grim and harsh. All her life she's to hightail it. First, she runs from Barcelona to Madrid, carrying a son inside her. She runs from her son's (Esteban) father. Eighteen years later Manuela has to run again in the opposite direction. Her son died and she returns to Barcelona to find his father and tell him about the short life of the son he never knew about. She wants to leave Madrid, the location where Esteban's life started and ended so quickly. Manuela's feelings are in confusion. Barcelona is metropolis of Esteban's father. Madrid is Esteban's city. Manuela's feelings are difficult to understand as she cannot sort them out herself. For her both these cities are incompatible and irreconcilable. When Esteban asked her about his father she always tried to improve the main topic of the conversation. She had grounds, as his father made a decision to have a feminine form and everyone called him Lola. Seventeen years she kept silent and finally Manuela promised to share with her son about his father on his birthday that happened to be Esteban's last day. Esteban did not know his father. What appears to be reality for Manuela results fiction for Esteban. Manuela runs away once more. It really is Barcelona - Madrid direction again; besides she is again with Esteban, a baby whose father is also Lola. It is extremely symbolic. Manuela feels something similar to revival. She has a son to deal with, his name is Esteban and she actually is the only person left nowadays to dedicate herself to the new lease of life. Manuela realizes that her life is absolutely extraordinary. She will not even know herself sometimes what is true and what's not in her life; she herself cannot differentiate the boundaries between reality and fiction, because everything is so real therefore unusual in her life. She also realizes that she could be an actress if she wanted, as she sees in herself the ability to change and pretend.

"All About My Mother" implies the ideas of female identification and introduce the idea of heterosocial bonds as a means of understanding the structures of knowledge (Maddison 2000). In fact, Manuela, the key character of the film, pushes herself to form alternative bonds between herself and other women in order to adapt to the difficulties caused by men in her life. It seems very clear that "ABOUT My Mother" is a film with which Pedro Almodóvar offers and extraordinary degree of female identification. This film has an emotionally intense, somber quality (Maddison 2000). The death of Esteban, Manuela's only son, catalyses the narration of the film. Besides, it practically separates the political and emotional notion of motherhood from the performance of this role in the family. Almodóvar presents female bonding that eliminates men's control and influence in the family. So, he highlights that "femininity is not the only real realm of women; nor is gender oppression the only real connection with women" (Maddison 2000).

The boundaries between real life and fiction are often blurred in the films by Pedro Almodóvar. That's one of the reasons why his films are so popular, unique and extraordinary. No one can dispute this fact nevertheless he likes or dislikes Pedro Almodóvar's works. That may be considered one of the distinguishing features of Almodóvar's films. He mentions in one of his interviews (Almodóvar 2006) that reality and fiction are sometimes absolutely fused in his films. All films by Pedro Almodóvar can be characterized as a mixture of images and sounds, genres, changing genders and characters, actors and motifs. The director characterized that with the word "collage" (Rosen 2006). These collages create endless chains of echoes and reflections between fiction and reality.

In his interview about his film "Volver" Pedro Almodóvar says: "The ultimate way to tell a fiction (at least in my own case) is to dress it with reality. Reality and fiction come together without confusion" (2010). The film-maker claims that he can then "contain the direct conversation" with the film he's making. Sometimes it appears to be difficult even for the director to tell apart between reality and fiction. Pedro Almodóvar just accepts the actual fact that films are his life. The films he makes just result from his life and sometimes it happens vice versa: his films give rise to life.

"ABOUT My Mother" has both features of reality and fiction. Every picture is the consequence of the film-maker's fantasy and imagination. However, this film is also a mourning of Almodóvar for his own mother. Thus, the intertextual references make fiction and reality interpenetrate and it is already impossible in order to reality from fiction as it is impossible to differentiate between the grief of the mother who lost her only son and the grief of your son who lost his mother.

The thirteenth film by Pedro Almodóvar "ABOUT My Mother" is known as by the critics to be the most accomplished director's film. It is dramatically rich and its emotional gravitas does indeed serve to identify the energy and quality of the film.

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