Almodóvar, Pedro

Almodóvar, Pedro pāˈᵺrō älmōᵺōˈbär [key], 1951–, Spanish film director. Almodóvar began making short films using an inexpensive Super 8 camera in the early 1970s, graduated to longer 16-mm works in the late 70s, and released his first feature, the low-budget Pepi, Luci, Bon y otras chicas del montón, in 1980. In post-Franco Spain's cultural freedom, Almodóvar became popular for his blackly comic yet joyous visions of human entanglements and the wilder shores of sexuality. Such outrageously satirical sociosexual comedies as Dark Habits (1983), Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), the international hit Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989), and Kika (1993) flouted the taboos of conventional Spanish society. Saturated with vivid color and extravagant emotion, these works typically center around strong, cunning, glamorous, and compelling women while often also featuring usually sympathetic portraits of such characters as transsexuals, drag queens, porn stars, and addicts.

A change of tone entered Aldomóvar's work with The Flower of My Secret (1995). He turned away from the extremes of campy parody to concentrate on a more open and somewhat mournful emotionalism in which sorrow can be transformed, largely by the power of art, into tenderness and beauty. Among his later films are All about My Mother (1999), winner of the Cannes best director award and the Academy Award for best foreign film, two male-centered works, Talk to Her (2002) and the noir-inflected Bad Education (2004), the decidedly female-centered Volver (2006), the enigmatic, somber yet sparkling Broken Embraces (2009), the darkly melodramatic The Skin I Live In (2011), Julieta, a woman-centered melodrama of loss, grief, and guilt loosely based on three linked stories by Alice Munro, and the semibiographical Pain and Glory (2019), in which a melancholy aging filmmaker is somewhat redeemed by memory, love, and creativity. Almodóvar, who produces all his own films, has also written the screenplays for many of them.

See Y. Baigneres and F. Strauss, ed., Almodóvar on Almodóvar (1995), and P. Willoquet-Maricondi, ed., Pedro Almodóvar: Interviews (2004); studies by N. B. Vidal (1988), P. J. Smith (1994), K. M. Vernon and B. Morris, ed. (1995), F. Strauss (2000), and M. Allinson (2001).

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