Video Essay. Export/Import: Pedro Almodóvar’s "Dark Habits" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"

How Pedro Almodóvar became exported Spanish cinema by importing so much from other countries.
Adrian Martin, Cristina Álvarez López

The 31st entry in an on-going series of audiovisual essays by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin.  MUBI's retrospective, The Art of Transgression: The Cinema of Almodóvar, is showing August 18 – October 19, 2019 in the United Kingdom.

It’s an enabling paradox of Pedro Almodóvar’s films that he became a principal export standing for Spanish cinema by importing so much into it from other countries and traditions. And this is especially so in relation to his starring female characters.  

Our audiovisual essay (the first in a series of three for the Notebook on Almodóvar) looks at some of the many allusions in two of his early features, Dark Habits (1983) and What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), to diverse forms, genres, and directors—from Italian neo-realism to R.W. Fassbinder. In every case, Almodóvar does not merely borrow or pastiche, but reinvents these idioms as his own. 

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