Pedro Almodóvar | Dark Habits | Matador | Atame | High Heels

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Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar is a Spanish film director.

Dark Habits

Dark Habits (1983) has some of the richest mise-en-scčne of Almodóvar's work. It has the full use of blue and orange mixed in with white, found in later Almodóvar films.

The night club singer on the run who winds up at the convent reminds one a little of an American TV movie, Dixie: Changing Habits (1980), but Almodóvar's treatment is entirely original.


The male leads of Matador (1986) and Law of Desire (1987) essentially switch places. Nacho Martinez, who plays the title character of Matador, takes the supporting role of Dr. Martin in Law of Desire. And Eusebio Poncela, who has the supporting role of police inspector in Matador, has the lead role of the film director in Law of Desire. After this, both actors disappear from Almodóvar's film universe.

In Matador, both men seem like extremely grown up figures of male authority. This image is enhanced by the 1980's GQ style suits both men wear, which of course in general were designed to make men look like authority figures. The Matador's suits are a little more stylish and glamorous, whereas the police inspector's are a little more serious and "good guyish", although his checked suit in the middle of the film is certainly high fashion.

Not only do these actors disappear from Almodóvar's cinema, but so do the types they represent. They play grown up, good looking, virile, authority and success figures, men roughly in their later thirties. Almodóvar becomes much more interested in the boys trying to be men characters played by Antonio Banderas. The older men who remain in his films are precisely that - much older men. These include the middle aged roué of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and the elderly film director in Atame.

Atame / Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

Atame (1990) seems in many ways to be just a routine crime thriller. It has some memorable moments:


The movie continues Almodóvar's interest in red-orange and blue; right from the start Banderas is dressed in blue jeans and a bright orange shirt.

Later he shows up in an interesting lime green T shirt, as well.

High Heels

High Heels (1991) is a mystery-comedy.

Links to other Almodóvar

Almodóvar's films sometimes split into two parts:

Scenes in High Heels recall previous Almodóvar movies. The episode where the judge is interrogating the three women about their relationships to the deceased, all lined up in one room and at one table, recalls the comedy of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). The scale model of the airport recalls the city set in Atame.

The judge in High Heels, who could have been a grown-up male figure like those in Matador, is a very different kind of character, with a beard, living with his mother, and with many eccentric characteristics. The judge is much closer to the Banderas characters in Matador and Law of Desire, both in his young age, and in that he lives with his strict mother. These later films such as High Heels largely exist in a women dominated, matriarchal world.


The color schemes in High Heels continue the fascination with red-orange and blue. In addition, there is extensive use of both white and gray:


The backgrounds in High Heels tend to be striped, either vertically or horizontally. These include: Shots tend to be frontal, and to have a strong Renaissance perspective effect. The table at the husband's house recedes precisely into the background along lines of perspective, for example. So do the white lines at the airport.

Symmetry is prominently featured in these scenes, adding to the perspective effect. Often times paired imagery adds to the symmetry: there are two policemen, one on each side of the killer, during the arrest. The mother's two conspicuous red gloves during the concert also call attention to themselves and the mirror symmetry of the image.