Pedro Almodóvar refused to work with Hollywood because he wanted to retain his artistic freedom. Nevertheless, the Spanish filmmaker impressed audiences around the world. His films are now being showcased at MoMA.
"I think if all filmmakers really made the films they wanted to make, they would be more original," Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar once said. The statement contains an important explanation for the director's sustained success. Almodóvar is an artist behind a movie camera - or, as Germans would call it, an "author filmmaker."
Personal stories in Almodóvar's films
It has always been important to Almodóvar to tell his own stories and visions on the big screen, and he's always remained true to this goal. He has depicted incredibly original female characters and men obsessed with sex and greed, and he's given homosexuality a great deal of space in his work. And he's managed to fit all of that into a melodramatic cinematic concept. He has always been the author of his own films.
Cinemagoers love his films precisely because they are so eccentric, so surprising, and so exaggeratedly melodramatic - even for audiences in the US, where art cinema has always found a niche next to big-budget Hollywood productions.
It's no coincidence that the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which has reserved a section for film since 1935, offering large exhibitions and carefully curated retrospectives, is honoring Almodóvar with an exhibition.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder a role model
Other European directors like Federico Fellini and Rainer Werner Fassbinder were also greeted with great interest in the US, at least in the art film scene. Both filmmakers have always offered their audiences spectacular productions. Fassbinder's actors in their over-the-top outfits and his fixation on the theme of homosexuality foreshadowed Almodóvar's work to some extent, though the latter's Spanish flair clearly shined through.
And like Fellini and Fassbinder, Almodóvar always refused to go to Hollywood. He certainly had plenty of offers, especially in 2000 after he won an Oscar for his celebrated film "All About My Mother."
But Almodóvar preferred to retain his artistic freedom, which would not be possible in the hamster wheel of Hollywood.
Almodóvar in MoMA
He is presenting his most recent film, "Julieta," on Tuesday in MoMA. On December 1, actress Rossy de Palma will be on hand at the showing of "Kika," and and December 3, Almodóvar will be discussing his work in a live presentation.
MoMA is showing the Spanish director's complete works through December 17.