UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ambivalent passion : Pedro Almodóvar's postmodern melodrama Cromb, Brenda


This thesis considers the films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar as postmodern melodramas. The crux of my argument is that melodrama is known for its expressiveness and its attempt to restore a spiritual element to a post-sacred world, and is used by Almodóvar to make clear the problems and contradictions inherent in the destabilized world of postmodernity. This definition of melodrama draws primarily on the work of Peter Brooks, Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams; it is modified to apply to postmodernism as defined by Jean Baudrillard and Frederic Jameson. The conclusion reached is that Almodóvar is deeply ambivalent about postmodernity. Chapter 2 considers the twin issues of representation and sexuality in Almodóvar’s first six films: Pepi, Luci, Born (Pepi, Luci Born y otras chicas del montón, 1980), Labyrinth of Passions (Laberinto de pasiones, 1982), Dark Habits (Entre tinieblas, 1983), What Have I Done To Deserve This? (Qué he hecho yopor merecer esto!, 1984), Matador (1986), and Law ofDesire (Le ley del deseo, 1987); with a special eye to the representation of sexual violence, it establishes how Almodóvar develops his ambivalent melodramatic imagination. Chapter 3 considers fashion as a discourse and argues that Almodóvar’s next four films use clothing to place different versions of femininity in dialogue, and uses this as a springboard to consider Women on the Verge ofa Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (I Atame!, 1990), High Heels (Tacones lejanos, 1991), and Kika (1993) as postmodern “women’s pictures.” Chapter 4 considers the appearance of the explicitly political along with the symbolism of the image of the map in The Flower of My Secret (Laflor de rni secreto, 1995), Live Flesh (Came trémula, 1997), and All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre, 1999). Chapter 5 uses the metaphor of ghosts to consider the draw of the past in Talk To Her (Hable con ella, 2002), Bad Education (La mala educación, 2004), and Volver (2006), pointing to both the emptiness of the present and the impossibility of returning to that golden past.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International