Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) and Live Flesh (Carne Trémula)

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Pedro Almodovar, in his recent films Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) (2002) and

Live Flesh (Carne Trémula) (1997), has brought a thoroughly modern

interpretation to the genre of melodrama. These fresh illustrations of human

love, loneliness, frustration and individuality explore the complexity of human

interaction and interestingly, in Talk to Her, the interactions of the sentient

in relation to the insentient. "Nothing is simple," Alicia's ballet teacher

muses in Talk to Her, this statement accurately captures the essential Pedro

Almodovar style.

Both of the works selected for analysis in this essay are melodramas. The word

"melodrama" originated from the Greek root which directly translated means

"music drama". These films do incorporate music to add to the emotional impact

of certain scenes. Examples of this are: (a) in Live Flesh! When Victor is

watching TV in prison and sees Elena and David celebrating David's new career,

there is a close up of Victors face conveying his hurt accompanied by music

in-keeping with Victor's frame of mind. This increases the impact for the

viewers as the music is in contrast with Elena and David's joy. (b) in Talk to

Her the same tense, measured music is used during several scenes to denote their

importance in the narrative (when Benigno is about to speak to Alicia for the

first time, at the beginning of Lydia's last fight and when Marco is rushing to

the prison in an attempt to stop Benigno from taking drastic measures in


The use of intertextuality in these films is also apparent. The newsreel of the

coverage of Victor's birth is significant. Victor's mother appears cold and

restrained compared to the intimacy the audience achieves in the scene prior as

we hear her cries from her labour pains. In Talk to Her the opening and closing

performance art pieces are an outlet for the emotional pain and turmoil which

Marco must grapple with. The silent movie too expresses more efficiently what is

occurring for Benigno on an emotional level than a depiction of the act of rape

could have.

Apart from the use of music, colour is integral to Almodovar's melodrama. In

Live Flesh! the walls of the apartments where the characters live, as well as

the school where Victor and Elena work, are warm and vibrant. The contrast

between dark green and deep reds and mustards provide a cosiness that puts...

... middle of paper ... a single life partner.

The film Live Flesh! explores the responsibility of sexuality. The film opens with Victor’s birth, the result of his mother’s sexual activity as a prostitute, just after Christmas (an event alleged to celebrate the exact day of Jesus’ birth [not, apparently, the result of sexual activity] and hence the birth of the New Testament and an enormous religious following, the birth of Christ is therefore considered as an overtly positive and important event for Christians to this day). The next important event in the film is Victor’s one night stand with Elena, and the events which follow result in life changing consequences for all involved. Aside from David’s injury (the result of David sleeping with Sancho’s wife), David and Elena fall in love and marry and Victor goes to prison. The sexual relations between Victor and Clara and Victor and Elena subsequent to his release all have major consequences, Elena’s divorce from Davis and the deaths of both Clara and Sancho. Sancho points out just prior to his death that he “should have shot your balls off when I had the chance.” Yes, that would have made life easier and more boring for all characters concerned.

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