LGBTQ Heroes: Pedro Almodóvar – bringing the drama to queer cinema
If you ask any queer filmmaker where they draw their influence, or who are their cinematic heroes, in almost every case the name of Pedro Almodóvar will be somewhere near the top of the list.
Let’s take a look at his life and legacy.
25 September, 1949
Almodóvar was born in Calzada de Calatrava, a small rural town in Spain.
When Almodóvar was eight, the family moved to the city of Cáceres. It was in Cáceres where Almodóvar discovered cinema.
In 1967, Almodóvar moved to Madrid to become a filmmaker. Almodóvar embedded himself in the alternative cultural scene of the city, becoming a crucial figure in La Movida Madrileña – the Madrilenian Movement – a cultural renaissance that followed the death of Franco.
Around 1974, Almodóvar made his first short film – using a Super-8 camera. By the end of the 1970s, Almodóvar’s short films were being shown at parties in Madrid and Barcelona. These short films had overtly sexual narratives and no soundtrack, and quickly established Almodóvar’s reputation as an innovative filmmaker.
Almodóvar has been in a relationship with Fernando Iglesias since 2002.
To date, Almodóvar has released 21 feature-length films. Developing a distinctive style, Almodóvar’s films generally feature a number of consistent themes, including – queer people and queer relationships, obsessions, strong women, religion, music, and an over-the-top embrace of kitsch and camp.
Here’s some of our favourites from Almodóvar’s filmography.
Law of Desire (1987)
This is a story about a complicated love triangle between a gay filmmaker (Eusebio Poncela), his transsexual sister (Carmen Maura), and a repressed murderously obsessive stalker (Antonio Banderas).
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
This story focuses on Pepa (Carmen Maura), a woman who been abruptly abandoned by her married boyfriend Iván (Fernando Guillén). Over two days, Pepa frantically tries to track him down. In the course, she discovers some of his secrets and realises her true feelings.
Live Flesh (1997)
An adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s novel Live Flesh, the film follows a man who is sent to prison after crippling a police officer and seeks redemption years later when he is released. Live Flesh marked Almodóvar’s first collaboration with Penélope Cruz, who plays the prostitute that gives birth to Victor. Additionally, Almodóvar cast Javier Bardem as the police officer David and Liberto Rabal as Víctor, the criminal seeking redemption. Italian actress Francesca Neri plays a former junkie who sparks a complicated love triangle with David and Víctor.
All About My Mother (1999)
The story revolves around a woman Manuela (Cecilia Roth), who loses her teenage son, Esteban (Eloy Azorín) in a tragic accident. Filled with grief, Manuela decides to track down Esteban’s transgender mother, Lola (Toni Cantó), and notify her about the death of the son she never knew she had. Along the way Manuela encounters an old friend, Agrado (Antonia San Juan), and meets up with a pregnant nun, Rosa (Penélope Cruz).
Bad Education (2004)
This is a tale of child sexual abuse and mixed identities, starring Gael García Bernal and Fele Martínez.
This story is a mixture of comedy, family drama and ghost story, following the story of three generations of women in the same family who survive wind, fire, and death.