miércoles, 8 de octubre de 2014

Meta-cinema in 2 Almodóvar Movies

It is now common to associate Pedro Almodóvar with the post-modern discourse in cinema especially regarding pastiche, pop imaginary, genre and gender playfulness, self- referential moments and meta-cinema. This last element has become one of the writer-director most recurrent trademarks. Almodóvar’s filmography, as complex as it is, could be also seen as a study on filmmaking. Beyond the many references to melodrama, film noir, Hitchcock’s thrillers, advertising, trashy TV, and exploitation movies, Almodóvar tends to recreates his own practice as a filmmaker via characters that work in the film industry. Even the way he portraits that referred gender fluidity, has to be seen in context of this self-referential cinematic frame.

In Mujeres al borde de un atáque de nervios (1988) and Átame (1990) for example, females characters are presented first as part of the “movie machinery” they belong. We learned from Pepa’s heartbreak when she is dubbing Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar (1954) while listening to her colleague and former lover’s already recorded voice. On the other hand, Marina is introduced as an object of tumultuous desire to the male characters and the spectators, as she gets ready to shoot a complicated scene in the horror movie she is working on. Both Máximo, the director, and Ricky are obsessed with her too because of her career as a porno actress. The diegetic filmmaking process aides Almodóvar to develop narratives within narratives: in Mujeres, the Johnny Guitar dubbed dialogue is appropriated by the director and becomes an important symbolic exchange (absence/presence) to understand the back story, psychology, and ultimate dynamic of the former couple. Their love history is embedded within the discourse and sensibility of Nicholas Ray’s film. Likewise, the horror movie scene in Átame establishes Marina as a final girl or victim hero (Smith 115).

This common Álmodovar practice allows him to create- along with his actresses- a “cinematic artificial” female identity far from quotidian. Or in any case quotidian in reference to the supposedly drama infused life (neurosis; overwhelming passion; drug addiction; masochism) of cinema players. As Paul Julian Smith argues: “Almodóvar targets the cinematic mechanism… as the designing force of women: of their pleasure and pain.”

-Smith, Paul Julian. Desire Unlimited The Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar Verso. London/New York, 2014

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