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Contemporary Spanish Cinema: Pedro Almodovar

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Module Leader: José Arroyo

From his early films such as What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) to the recent international success of The Skin I Live In (2011), Pedro Almodóvar’s work is the best known and most greatly loved of Spanish directors outside of Spain. However, his relationship to Spanish culture in general and Spanish cinema in particular is more problematic. This course will introduce you to an incredibly rich oeuvre and periodise it through various paradigms (from the political to the authorial). Together we’ll explore questions such as:

  • What does the work owe to Francoist culture?
  • What is the significance of the contributions of ‘La Movida’ (the youthful and artistic subculture that emerged out of Madrid after the end of the Franco regime) to Almodóvar’s early work?
  • What does Almodóvar owe to Hollywood cinema in general and its melodramatic and noir genre variants in particular?
  • What is the inter-relationship of representations of gender, sexuality and nation in his work?
  • How does the oeuvre fit into a history of Spanish Cinema and also a history of Gay Cinema?
  • How useful are notions of ‘national cinema’, ‘global cinema’, and ‘transnational cinema’ to an understanding of Almodóvar’s work?

We will build on the work you have done in the second year of the degree on National Cinemas, by both extending and deepening understanding of the subject. The focus will be largely on the work of one director but seen through various contexts (genre, stars, style, authorship) to help us explore and interrogate the notion of national cinema.

Click here for module outline.