He has often been compared to American filmmaker John Waters. Both men announced they were openly gay before it became passe.One uniqueness about Almodovar was he got his start in the Pandora’s Box that was the post Franco period of the late 1970s.
All of his movies are satire and commentary on the dark side of Spain from the waning years of the Franco regime until the 21st Century.He divulges in pretty much anything taboo or “out there.”Besides homosexuality which is a given the viewers can see S&M, pedophilia,drug abuse, murder, gender bending, politics,extramarital affairs and almost nothing is taboo with Pedro Almodovar.
I will reveal some pieces of his work with kink scenes but beforedoing so there is a biographical section.
He was born in 1949 in the Spanish province of Castille-La Mancha to
middle class parents. As a kid his parents sent him to a Catholic boarding school which he hated. Later he once stated “Cinema was my real education and I learned more from that than any priest.”
In 1967 he moved to Madrid with dreams of being a movie director against his parents’ wishes (they wanted him to be a priest).That same year Franco closed the National School of Cinema and determined to make it he became self-taught. For several years he worked a series of odd jobs including a stint at the phone company Telefonica.
At the age of 22 he bought his first Super 8mm camera and began to make several short subjects which he showed at underground clubs in Madrid and Barcelona. All were silent movies with overtly sexual themes. Some include Dos putas, la historia de amor que termina en boda (1974) “Two whores, a love story which ends in marriage and La Caida de Sodom (1975) “The Fall of Sodom.” The first movie he made was in 1978 on Super 8mm called Folle, folle, folleme Tim (Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me Tim).
He got caught up the Movida Madrilena (Madrid Movement) of 1975-1980 which saw an explosion of artistic creativity following the death of Franco and the end of several years of harsh censorship. It was not until 1979 that homosexuality was decriminalized in Spain. During the Franco regime gays were often imprisoned, sent to “re-education” camps and even placed in mental institutions. The Generalissimo felt gays and lesbians were a danger to society. For the young budding movie maker it was not easy.
During this time he wrote articles for numerous mainstream and undergroundpublications. The latter including El Vibora and Vibraciones.
In 1980 he made his first feature film called Pepi, Luci, Bom. This is of note because the plot involves a four way friendship where two of the characters include a masochist housewife and a lesbian punk rock singer. There is a golden shower scene in the film.The movie premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and caused much controversy due to the golden shower, and the S&M relationship. One campy character is a very effeminate homosexual.
In 1983 Almodovar gave the world the film Dark Habits. This film is a satire of the Catholic church in Spanish society of the day. It sealed Pedro’s reputation as the enfant terrible of cinema in Spain. The story revolves around a cabaret seeking refuge in a convent called The Order of Humiliated Redeemers.Our heroine realizes all six nuns she encounters have vices ranging including soft core porn, cocaine addiction and hard corporal punishment. One of the nuns even has fantasies about dropping acid.
Matador (1986) this black comedy was one his many collaborations with actress Carmen Maura and a very young Antonia Banderas. The movie centers around a bullfighter and her relationship with a female lawyer who finds satisfaction in murder while having sex with other men. In the end the two make love. She kills him and then she turns the gun on herself.
In 1990 Almodovar gave the world Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down.
This is a power exchange struggle and story of obsessive love between a former mental patient (Antonio Banderas) and his love interest (Victoria Abril) who is a former porn actress and recovering drug addict.
Due to the sexual and drug related nature this one of the first films to receive the then newly classified NC-17 rating which used to be the X rating. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) changed the designation because of the affiliation with adult entertainment.
High Heels (1991)
This was his first venture going outside comedy. It’s a melodrama involving a female newscaster who has sexual relations with a drag performer.
In 2004 Almodovar made the film Bad Education. This is a highly controversial drama revolving around heroin abuse, transgenderism and molestation by Catholic priests. It received high praise for the director’s return to the dark side which made him famous.It was also screened at film festivals in New York City, Toronto, Cannes and Moscow.The film received an NC-17 rating due to it’s content.
Acclaim in the Press
In the Spanish film magazine writer Gerard Cassado stated “…Almodovar has consolidated his own person universe….. involving homosexuality, sexual perversion, female heroines,sacrilegious Catholicism…”
June Thomas of Slate Magazine noted that transsexuality, prostitution, illegal drug use,vomiting, spying, stalking, rape and incest were recurring themes in his work.
He has often incorporated underground techniques from his early years and LGBTQ themes in his movies. He does not liked being stereotyped as a “gay filmmaker.”His concept is this how pretty much of life is. He also deserves much credit for having several female performers in leading roles.