Enter Pedro Almodovar’s Mind: How Almodovar Integrates Other Films Into His Stories
Pedro Almodovar is another master that never went to film school and yet, has graced us with twenty feature films over thirty years, has steadily kept Spain on the filmmaking map and has pushed conventions in genders and genres all the while speaking to a rather broad audience. In this unique lecture, Almodovar chose clips from films that influenced him and how he absorbed them and “re-used” them to build his own stories.
Almodovar chose to open his David Lean Lecture with a tragic clip from Opening Night by John Cassavetes that he said was ‘a good example of when things are not going so well.’ Unlike Maurice Aagons, the director played by Cassavetes in the movie, Almodovar explains that when things go wrong (as they often do in filmmaking), “the director should be a friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a father, a mother, a psychiatrist and sometimes should be an executioner. We are always a mirror for the actors.”
“A film seen by a thousand different eyes becomes a thousand different films, all of which are valid, all of them enrich this art which for me is the essence of my life, the art called cinema.” [Pedro Almodovar]
Almodovar also confessed that Opening Night somehow introduced itself in each screenplays he wrote during nine years and he finally could use this influence in Todo Sobre Mi Madre. After showing a clip from it, Almodovar breaks down his choices and the parallelism with Opening Night.
Early on during the ‘masterclass’, Almodovar explains that everything he does, sees, reads, watches, become organic elements of his being that mind find their way into his screenplays. The rest of the masterclass ends up being a demonstration of this statement, that is probably true for many other storytellers (hence the: “live an interesting life!” recurring advice.)
And following that idea, the conversation is very fluid, Almodovar sharing with passion and enthusiasm the elements that shaped his stories. I had the chance to listen to Almodovar couple of years ago, and the man was as entertaining and generous as he is in this BAFTA video. Unfortunately BAFTA didn’t made it available to download, but you can watch the full video here and see a ‘mash-up’ below: