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Pedro Almodóvar: 1951—: Filmmaker - Showed No Stop To His Creativity

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The 1990s ushered in a slew of Almodóvar hits Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! debuted in 1990, High Heels in 1991, Kika in 1993, The Flower of My Secret in 1995, and Live Flesh in 1997. His style had matured with his characters showing more restraint, despite plots as crazy as anything Almodóvar had created earlier including a disgruntled daughter who marries her mother's ex-lover, a mental patient who kidnaps a porn star in the hopes that she will fall in love with him, and a man in love with a prostitute who is sent to jail for shooting a police officer who turns out to be the prostitute's husband. Almodóvar told Time the source of these wild tales. "Cinema you can learn by yourself," he told Time. "But the stories must come from inside you. When I am writing something, I have the feeling that I am really reading something, and that I have to keep on writing to find out what is going to happen next." What happened next is that the stories that he had created and made into films reaped dozens of prestigious film awards and created a new genre of filmmaking—the Almodóvar style.

In 2001 Almodóvar reached the height of his career with the critically and popularly acclaimed film, All About My Mother. Again the plot is delightfully complex and the characters endearingly eccentric. A mother loses her teenage son in a car accident following a play. She then goes off in search of the boy's father, a transvestite prostitute who has impregnated a young nun and infected her with HIV. Through her mourning, the mother pulls together an unlikely sorority including the young nun, the actress who had starred in the play she had seen with her son before the accident, the actress's drug addicted lesbian lover, and a philosophical transsexual. They are the quintessential abnormal family that is the norm of Almodóvar's films. Yet, with his deft touch, the characters speak to the audience, sharing the themes of family, life, loss, love, and friendship. It is a story anyone can relate to even if there is nary a transsexual in their life. The film also spoke to international film critics. All About My Mother earned nearly 100 awards. It was the star at Cannes, San Sebastian, and countless other film festivals. It gained best film and best director awards at the French Cesar's, Britain's Academy of Film and Television Awards, the Goya's, and in the ultimate film acclaim, scored the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Following his Oscar win, Almodóvar received the congratulations of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar. However, for a man who despite his kinky films is a firm believer in home, family, and country, he wanted to return to the village of his parents to share his prize. With Oscar in hand, Almodóvar was hailed by the villagers who once derided his films. "This is not Calzada de Calatrava, this is Pedro Almodóvar's town," one woman was quoted on www.express.co.uk.

In 2002 Almodóvar began work on Speak to Her, a film centering on the friendship between a female bullfighter and a ballerina. He already has completed the script for his following movie, Bad Education. He is also flirting with the idea of making an English-language film. When at 17 he fled his rural roots for the country's urban capital, it was with "the intention of becoming Madrid's most modern person," he told Vanity Fair. With dozens of films to his credit, hundreds of awards, and numerous books and film courses devoted to his body of work, Almodóvar has not only become Madrid's most modern person, he has become one of the world's most modern icons.


Selected filmography

Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otra Chicas del Monton (Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap), 1980.

Laberinto del Pasiones (Labyrinth of Passion), 1982.

Entre Tinieblas (Dark Habits), 1983.

Que He Hecho Yo a Para Mercerer Esto (What Have I Done to Deserve This? ), 1984.

Matador, 1985.

Ley del Deseo, (The Law of Desire) ), 1987.

Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), 1988.

Atame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! ), 1989.

Tacones Lejanos (High Heels), 1991.

Kika, 1993.

La Flore de mi Secreto (The Flower of My Secret), 1995.

Carne Tremula (Live Flesh),1997.

Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother), 1999.


Sources

Periodicals


The Economist, April 1, 2000, p. 48.

Film Comment, November/December, 1988, p.13.

GQ, November 1989, p. 104.

Interview, April 1996, p. 48.

Newsweek International, May 8, 2000, p. 21.

Time, January 30, 1989, p. 68; November 15, 1999, p.100.

Time International, December 13, 1999, p. 48.

Vanity Fair, April 1999, p.182.

Washington Post, June 30, p. G1.


—Candace LaBalle

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