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Almodóvar: Man of La Mancha
The Age Melbourne, 1994, 2,100 words; adapted extracts
Maybe the problem is simply, as Almodóvar himself says in the cameo role he plays in Matador, that Spaniards are "envious or intolerant". More seriously, the country that he depicts isn't the one that many Spaniards want to see promoted. What outsiders recognize and love about the Spain he shows us is precisely its culture that bubbles up from below, from which Spaniards themselves often turn away.
What outsiders recognize and love about the Spain he shows us is precisely its culture that bubbles up from below, which Spaniards themselves often shy away from.
FROM THE STREET
"Haphazardly, his everyday tales of life tell the story of the country as seen from the street," is the way that his close friend actress Bibi Andersen [Bibiana Fernández], puts it.
There's no doubt, either, that his sardonic humour often hits a national nerve, attacking traditional sacred cows and exploring sensitive issues that some Spaniards would prefer not to see played out on the world's screens. Bad Education, released in 2003, is the clearest example of that - it received mixed reviews on home ground and great acclaim abroad.
Abroad, it's his comic dissection of sexual behaviour that most fascinates and provokes. "I'd cite The Law of Desire as one of the toughest examinations of sexual morality ever made," comments Peter Coyote.
Almodóvar himself is bemused by much of the analysis. "A lot of people make comments about my films, to which all I can say is, oh, is that what it was about? When I write I let myself go, tell a story. I don't know what's going to come out. There are no deliberate statements."
But he agrees his films are an anarchic explosion against his repressive childhood years, during which he was sexually abused by priests at school. "The most personal and symbolic image of all my films is the scene in Law of Desire when Carmen Maura, suffocated by the summer heat, asks the late-night street cleaners to hose her down. For me, that expresses desire in its fullest sense."
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