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All About Almodóvar: Melodrama, Mothers, Memory and Movidas in the Films of the (Most) Fabulous Spanish Auteur

SPAN 528
Pedro Almodóvar

Who is Pedro Almodóvar and why are his films synonymous with “Spanish” culture? How do his films narrate contemporary Spanish history, disrupt gender norms, challenge traditional Catholic values, irk politicians in both the Left and Right, uphold and deconstruct Hollywood film style, and generally reframe the way Spanish cinema is perceived globally? Controversial genius, global auteur, national icon and standard bearer for queer culture, and arguably the most influential Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel (possibly more than Buñuel), Almodóvar is without a doubt also the most recognizable cinematic auteur from that nation. In this seminar we will study his most transgressive films through a historical, political and cultural lens to understand how these complex works reflected and facilitated the convulsive changes occurring in Spain as the country emerged from its long dictatorship and moved toward a (it was then believed) shining democratic future, and how they have adapted to the changing times today. From his punk and post-punk films during La Movida (Madrid’s post-Francoist cultural revolution), through his classic melodramas, and his more “realist” and self-reflexive later phase, we shall come to grips with a cinematic oeuvre that resists containment and categorization. The course will be centered on the analysis of the films through a variety of theoretical perspectives, including film theory, queer theory, disability studies, memory studies, Spanish cultural studies, etc. Each week we will study one film as we undertake a journey through Spanish contemporary history as understood by the filmmaker. Some of the films we will view may include Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (1980), ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (1984), Matador (1986), Tacones lejanos (1991), Todo sobre mi madre (1999), Hable con ella (2002), Volver (2006), Los abrazos rotos (2009), La piel que habito (2011) and Dolor y gloria (2019), among others.

Taught in English. All texts will be made available in English, and films subtitled.

Thu 2:00-4:50 PM; 

CRN: 49409

Instructor: Eduardo Ledesma