Table of Contents
2. The development of the post-modern comedy after Franco’s death
3. Homosexuality as something “normal” in Almodovar’s fictive societies
3.1. The juxtaposition of homo-and heterosexuality: Laberinto de Pasiones
3.2. Breaking taboos
3.2.1. Pepi, Luci, Bom
3.2.2. Laberinto de Pasiones
3.2.3. Entre Tinieblas
Almodovar’s first three films Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (1980), Laberinto de Pasiones (1982) and Entre Tinieblas (1983) can be seen as a breaking of all the taboos that were forbidden under Franco’s regime: there is drug use, "abnormal" sexuality, crude language, adultery, religious blasphemy. The films clearly mirror the new freedoms enjoyed by a generation of film-makers belonging to Spain’s “la movida” movement of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Born in 1951, Almodovar mainly grew up in the rural Extremadura, but left for Madrid at the age of sixteen. He originally wanted to attend the national film school, but due to the closure of the school by the Dictator Franco's repressive government he was unable to go. He instead took a job at a telephone company to make the money to buy himself a Super-8 camera. Almodovar began filming short films in the early 1970s, and quickly became associated with ‘la movida’.
This essay will be evaluating Almodovar’s role as a post-modern director, including a brief demonstration of the development of the post-modern culture after Franco’s death. The essay is especially interested in the juxtaposition of homo- and heterosexuality in Almodovar’s films and will evaluate the different ways in which Almodovar presents homosexuality. It will also have a close look at the mediums Almodovar uses to make his audience take his absurd film worlds for granted, and accept the happenings and characters as ‘normal’.
2. The development of the post-modern comedy after Franco’s death
In 1975, the year of Franco’s death, the times when the main purpose of films was the glorification and worship of the Regime were over. Censorship, government subsidies and ideological pressures that were aimed at steering content in a direction that would please the Regime were substituted by “new freedoms ushered in by democratic reforms and the long period of Socialist government.” (Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas. 1998. 85) As a consequence Spanish cinema started to change thematically and stylistically: during the dictatorship sex was not considered something to be seen on screen; the church and the fascist regime even considered it a sin and the strict censorship only allowed nudity on screen if it did not serve the purpose of provoking sexual feelings in the spectator.
With Franco’s death, however, directors such as Almodovar started to challenge sexual and cinematic taboos with films like Pepi, Luci,Bom y otras chicas del montón, Laberinto de pasiones and Entre Tinieblas. The end of the dictatorship helped Spain to assimilate to the rest of Europe and the United States in terms of “music, fashion, identity politics, drug cultures etc.” (Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas. 1998. 81) and the period between years 1977 and 1985 became known as ‘la movida’. The movement had its principal focus in Madrid and was a spontaneous cultural renaissance after 40 years of censorship of the fascist regime. This new pop-culture had its origins in the 1960’s underground cinema and 1970’s punk scene and was to be found in all aspects of youth culture: in music, fashion, art, design, graphics, photography and film. It helped Spain’s young people to experiment with new identities, sexualities and values, their places of action being the nightclubs of Madrid where they would find punk-rock and heavy metal next to flamenco and sevillanas. This phenomenon was to become known as Spain’s ‘post-modern’ culture and is mirrored in Almodovar’s early comedies.
Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas claim that “the notion of post-modern comedy arguably resists any clear definition as a discrete filmic style or practice precisely because of its ostentatiously hybrid, cross-generic character and its contempt for established filmic aims well as other cultural and social boundaries and hierarchies.” (Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas. 1998. 81). They also point out that its humour typically occurs from the “wilful disruption of the spectator’s reading expectations […] from narrative and generic incongruities and the juxtaposition of the bizarre and the banal” (Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas. 1998. 81). In addition the humour focuses on the seeking of primitive pleasures, which involves grotesque, fooled, fanatical characters and their bizarre behaviour. The post-modern comedy was part of a nation-wide movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the New Spanish Comedy, a movement which focused its narratives on the liberating effects of sexual and social experimentation. The ‘comedia madrilena’ of Trueba and Colomo was another movement serving the same purpose as the New Spanish Comedy and continued to develop into such films as the ones made by Pedro Almodovar.
John Hopewell calls Almodovar’s early work distinctively post-modern.
He points out “the erasure of the distinction between high art and subculture; the appeal to allusive citation; the mixing of genres; the use of unmotivated images, sound effects, or shots […] the absence of establishing shots at the beginning of sequences, a technique typical for pop videos.” (Hopewell. cited in Smith. 1992. 171). Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas address the fact that such ‘post-modern’ elements as farce and parody, caricature, crudity and “toilet humour” and other components to shock the spectator, as typically found in Almodovar’s films, have been present in films of Berlanga, Colomo, Mira and Bigas Luna and have not been ‘invented’ by Almodovar. However, they point out that what makes Almodovar’s films so special is the fact that he “pushed these narratives, thematic, intertextual and stylistic elements to filmic excess, to levels of crudity, explicitness and self-consciousness hitherto unseen in Spanish filmmaking.” (Jordan and Morgan-Tamosunas. 1998. 82). However, his films do not only serve the purpose of entertaining, especially his later films often show a moral element, which Smith calls the “serious investigation of desire (and particularly of feminine and homosexual desire).”(Smith. 1992. 171).
- Quote paper
- Sandra Beyer (Author), 2004, Homosexuality in "Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón", "Laberinto de Pasiones" and "Entre Tinieblas" of the post-modern director Pedro Almodovar, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/25159