Almodovar 's 2001, La piel que habito , received mixed reviews from Spanish critics, one favourably calling it an irracionalidad transcendida whereas Spanish film critic Carlos Boyero called it a notable idiotez . However, most critics agree that this film merits a second viewing in order to appreciate the rich texture of the film, in which a lonely and haunted plastic surgeon (Banderas) becomes dangerously entangled with his personal experiment, Vicente, or Vera (Anaya) whom he believed had assaulted his mentally ill daughter, provoking her suicide. The film is the director's first exploration of science fiction, containing an amalgamation of themes concerning gender and sexuality identity, whilst at the same time exploring the prison house of the self. In this essay I will discuss the ways in which these main themes are manifested in the plot and cinematography, their effect and finally the way in which Spanish critics have received Almodóvar's latest work.
Entrapment, or, the prison house of the self, is the confinement that all Almodóvar's characters in Piel are subjected to in some form or another. It is through this mental and in Vera's case, physical, confinement that tension is cleverly built up in the first half of the film, showing Almodóvar's ability to manipulate the viewers until revealing the film's twist. The opening shot is of a sleepy Toledo, in which the looming presence of El Cigarral can be seen behind bars, foreshadows this theme of incarceration. The bustle of Madrid is nowhere to be seen in this Almodóvar film, emphasizing the isolation of the characters. Furthermore, Vera's confinement, the physical isolation of her cell and her body suit are juxtaposed with the palatial house in which she is held prisoner; whereas Robert's solitude is all the more intensified by it. However, each characters confinement directs them in opposite directions, Vera's prison is unlocked both literally and symbolically the moment that Robert kills his unknown half-brother Zeca, and inadvertently unlocks his own passion for Vera.
[...] Initially we watch Vera as she moulds clothes into faceless figures, and later we see Vicente dressing up a mannequin in his mothers shop. In this way, Vera's actions represent a process of creation that contrasts to Robert's character, who can only manipulate objects; for example, scientifically modify blood or even his bonsai trees- contorting them to grow the way he desires. Robert has tried to impose transcendence on his victim, whose body he hopes will become the site of his redemption, therefore we can regard this film a type of meditation on the resurrection of the flesh- indicated even in the name of Ledgard's house, Cigarral”, alluding to the insect that dies only to be resurrected after shedding its skin. [...]
[...] Spanish Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group Allinson, Mark. A Spanish Labyrinth: The Films of Pedro Almodóvar. I.B. Tauris Web Resources Carlos Boyero, ¿Horror frío? No, horror grotesco, El País, 2nd September http://elpais.com/diario/2011/09/02/cine/1314914404_850215.html Jordi Costa, La piel que habito, o http://www.25fotogramas.tv/los-criticos Andrew O'heir, Almodóvar builds a new Frankenstein, Salon. October 2011. [...]
[...] The bustle of Madrid is nowhere to be seen in this Almodóvar film, emphasizing the isolation of the characters. Furthermore, Vera's confinement, the physical isolation of her cell and her body suit are juxtaposed with the palatial house in which she is held prisoner; whereas Robert's solitude is all the more intensified by it. However, each characters confinement directs them in opposite directions, Vera's prison is unlocked both literally and symbolically the moment that Robert kills his unknown half-brother Zeca, and inadvertently unlocks his own passion for Vera. [...]
[...] ) Radical, voraz, quirúrgicamente perfecta. Tan precisa como abrumadora." These references to the film's clinical perfection and precision stand out throughout the film; the visual aspects of the film are as sharp as the plot, and are intensified by the many, lingering overhead shots of crime-scene-like tables of medical equipment. Critics from around the world have remarked upon the film being a modern remake of Frankenstein or Pygmalion and the links are indeed clear, but Piel also resonates with viewers in Hitchcockian fashion through the voyeuristic experience the viewer is forced to take part in. [...]
[...] o http://www.salon.com/2011/10/13/almodovar_builds_a_new_frankenstei Luis Martinez, Esencia de Almodovar, El Mundo, May 2011. o http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/05/19/cultura/1305797291.html All referencec hereafter are referred to as Piel. Jordi Costa 25 fotogramas Carlos Boyero Pedro Almodóvar as quoted in an interview with Andrew O'Heir, October 2011. Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 11. James Strachey, Anna Freud. [...]
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