The name Pedro Almodóvar is inextricably connected to the outburst of energy and youth culture known as “la movida madrileña”. This was the period of the eighties in Spain, and specifically in Madrid, when the censorship and repression of the Franco dictatorship was swept aside by a generation of young people wishing to break boundaries in all aspects of their lives, including musical and artistic expression.
Almodóvar embodied this expression in the cinema to a degree of excellence that has won him many of world’s most prestigious cinema awards including two Oscars. His films are characterized by fast moving, complex and irreverent plots, using popular music, bright colours and stylized camera-work. His themes are melodramatic delving into relationships, passions and hidden desires. Although his output his prolific, his most enduring and popular film continues to be “Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios” (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) (1988) starring Carmen Maura and featuring a very young Antonio Banderas.
Pedro Almodóvar comes from humble origins, born into a farming family in Castilla La Mancha. His parents were practically illiterate and Pedro was used as a scribe for his family and neighbours. At the age of eight he was sent to a religious boarding school in Caceres, Extremadura in the hope that he would become a priest. During this period he developed an intense interest in films and claims to have learnt far more from the cinema than from his religious teachers.
Pedro moved to Madrid in 1967 and became a self-taught film director as the National School of Cinema had just been closed down by Franco. He did a series of odd jobs and finally worked for Telefónica for twelve years. As his job had a morning timetable, he spent his afternoons and evenings pursuing his interests as a film-maker, moving in the world of experimental cinema and theatre.
As well as producing films he sang in a glam-rock music duo and wrote articles for underground as well as established publications. His first major film success was the raunchy cult movie “Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón” released in 1980. Other films are “Laberinto de Pasiones” (1982) Matador (1986) “Todo Sobre Mi Madre” (1999); “Volver” (2006).
Almodóvar has discovered and nurtured many of Spain’s most famous actors; his actresses are referred to as “las chicas de Almodóvar” (Almodóvar’s girls). His films often revolve around female characters and incorporate elements of underground and gay culture. He says of his work: “My films are very Spanish, but on the other hand they are capriciously personal. You cannot measure Spain by my films.”