Nov 26, 2007

2nd December 2007: Screening : Pedro Almodovar's VOLVER

A Film By
Pedro Almodovar
Country :Spain , Run time : 121 minutes
Spanish with English subtitles.

There is no director alive more connected to the hearts, minds and mysteries of women than Spain's Pedro Almodovar. Almodóvar's "Volver" -- the title means "to return" -- is inspired by the filmmaker's own memories of growing up in La Mancha. In "Volver," the central character -- the movie's life force, if you will -- is a ghost. She may be a real ghost or a metaphorical one, but the distinction is inconsequential. "Volver" is the story of a family of women, and at the root of this particular tree is a mother and grandmother, Irene (played by the wonderful Carmen Maura): She has two daughters, the tough, capable but somewhat insensitive Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and the more retreating, eccentric Sole (Lola Dueñas). At the beginning of the movie, we learn that Irene is dead: She was killed, with the girls' father, in a fire, quite a few years ago.

In the memorable tracking shot that opens "Volver," a bevy of scarved women are scanned as they vigorously scrub the graves of loved ones. This animated tableau is a testament to the ritualistic devotion that the mothers of this community, located in the rural Spanish region of La Mancha, lavish upon their dead. The image also provides an apt metaphor for the meticulous, one could say maternal, care with which the filmmaker, Pedro Almodóvar, constructs and polishes his movies about women.

“Volver,” full of surprises and reversals, unfolds with breathtaking ease and self-confidence. Ms. Cruz plays Raimunda, a hard-working woman pulled in every direction by terrible events and by the needs of the women around her. With this role Ms. Cruz inscribes her name near the top of any credible list of present-day flesh-and-blood screen goddesses, in no small part because she manages to be earthy, unpretentious and a little vulgar without shedding an ounce of her natural glamour.

It is about what American feminists of an earlier era called sisterhood, and also about the complicated bonds of kinship and friendship that Mr. Almodóvar observed as a child growing up among women in traditional, patriarchal, gender-separated (and fascist) Spain. Raimunda’s troubles may be extreme, but she bustles through them with passionate determination, making room for every emotion except self-pity.

“Volver” is often dazzling in its artifice — José Luis Alcaine’s ripe cinematography, Alberto Iglesias’s suave, heart-tugging score — but it is never false. It draws you in, invites you to linger and makes you eager to return. It offers something better than realism. The real world, after all, is where we all have to live; for some of us, though, Mr. Almodóvar’s world is home.

(Courtesy : , New York Times & )

Pedro Almodovar

There is no director alive more connected to the hearts, minds and mysteries of women than Spain's Pedro Almodovar.

Pedro Almodóvar is the cultural symbol par excellence of the restoration of democracy in Spain after nearly 40 years of the right-wing military dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Since Almodóvar's emergence as a transgressive underground cineaste in the late 1970s and early 1980s , he has gone on to establish himself as the country's most important filmmaker and a major figure on the stage of world cinema.

Pedro Almodóvar Caballero was born on September 24, 1949 in Calzada de Calatrava, a rural small town of Ciudad Real, a province of Castile-La Mancha in the administrative district of Almagro. La Mancha is the windswept region of flat lands made famous by Don Quixote. He was born as one of four children (two boys, two girls) in a large and impoverished family of peasant stock. His father, Antonio Almodóvar, who could barely read or write worked most of his life hauling barrels of wine by mule. Almodóvar's mother, Francisca Caballero, turned her son into a part time teacher of literacy in the village and also a letter reader and transcriber for the neighbors. When Pedro was eight years old, the family sent him to study at a religious boarding school in the city of Cáceres, Extremadura, in the west of the country, with the hope that he might someday become a priest. His family eventually joined him in Cáceres, where his father opened a gas station, and his mother opened a bodega where she sold her own wine.

Against his parents' wishes, Pedro Almodóvar moved to Madrid in 1967. After completing the compulsory military service, the young man from rural Spain found in Madrid of the late 60s the city, the culture and the freedom. His goal was to be a film director, but he lacked the economic means to do it and besides, Franco had just closed the National School of Cinema so he would be completely self-taught. To support himself, Almodóvar worked a number of odd jobs.

Around 1974, Almodóvar began making his first short films on a Super-8 camera. By the end of the 1970s they were shown in Madrid's night circuit and in Barcelona Almodóvar was influenced by such directors as Billy Wilder, Douglas Sirk, Alfred Hitchcock, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Luis Buñuel, Edgar Neville, Federico Fellini, Luis García Berlanga and neorealist Marco Ferreri.

Almodóvar made his first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap (Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón), in 1980 with a very low budget and a team of volunteers shooting on weekends. His last film was Volver which was released in 2006. Almodovar has made 29 films till date.

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