Sometimes called apolitical or ahistorical, many of Pedro Almodóvar’s luscious films have met with consternation, if not distain, by Spanish critics. Yet Almodóvar leads the jury for the 2017 Cannes film festival. In fact, Spanish film scholar Paul Julian Smith notes that while “Pedro Almodóvar is now the most successful Spanish filmmaker of all time, whether that success is measured in terms of commercial or creative capital, […he…] remains a prophet without honour in his home country” (in Desire Unlimited: The Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar). In this course, we will uncover the hidden political realities that inform the director’s oeuvre. An anarchic extrovert and flamboyant auteur, Almodóvar has long exploited cinema as a means of provoking social change. His films roughly span the years of Spain’s post-dictatorship (1977-present) and must be situated within this highly charged context of dramatic political and cultural transformation. While his early screwball comedies flaunt the freedom of the era, his more recent films have grown more ambitious and serious. His most recent and most restrained film to date adapts Alice Munro. The course will also address how Almodóvar’s work theorizes issues such as gender and sexuality, power and the body, visual pleasure, religion and its abuse, consumerism, authenticity, high and low culture, and film authorship itself. Readings, most in Spanish, will inform rigorous discussion on all of these topics. Advisory: Students should be aware that some of the films contain graphic images of a sexual or violent nature.
Corequisites: attendance at two Language Series events