“To Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, Romy Schneider… To all the actresses who have played actresses, to every performing woman, to the men who act and become women, to all the people who become mothers. To my mother.”
The film All About My Mother ends with this quote after showing the strength and everyday battles each woman must face. It also allows us to reflect how little we value it. From the start, Pedro Almodóvar has declared himself a lover of women, a man capable of detecting how each of them feels when working with him and able to know it all with just a look.
According to the director, in Spaniard culture women are more vivacious, expressive, and direct, because they’re less afraid of ridicule and prejudice. He observes them with empathy. He captures their strengths, weaknesses, and never undermines them.
His films are a reflection of himself and his understanding of women. Through his fascination with the female world, he portrays the feminine psyche with charm, confidence, and ease. He knows women were born to act. Through his movies, he is able to prove just how far their will can go.
Women need to take chances
“Women currently take fewer risks than they did in the eighties. Back then, it was an explosion of freedom in every aspect of their lives, like social and sexual behavior. Young women now are very different, but maybe it will change.” He enjoys showing characters that, against all odds, do everything to change their situation.
Beauty is not limited to age
His stories celebrate all women. Regardless of age, it’s all about the look. Nobody should pretend to be something they’re not. It’s about appreciating your own unique qualities and learning to enjoy life as you are.
Put your whole heart into it
Almodóvar considers every detail to be vital to the story. The colors of a scene must go hand in hand with the women performing, in order to best represent the theme. Some actresses have stated they’ve returned home completely exhausted after playing a fictitious character throughout the day, but satisfied of putting all of themselves into the work.
3 women you need in your life
There’s the woman in love like in The Flower of my Secret, dependent and willing to do anything to find true love. Then there’s the desperate and hysterical housewife who is tired of the routine, such as the character in What Have I Done to Deserve This? Prostitutes represent their occupation in a guilt-free natural way. There are characters who change their sex to become female. And of course, there are mothers, women who do everything for their children.
Women are better at facing life’s obstacles
Women change for the better
These characters evolve: the submissive one rebels, the mother rejects how her husband treats her, the independent one abandons motherhood to succeed; there's also the one who must help her family survive, or even the one who must overcome the pain of a separation.
No woman is normal
They all make mistakes, only to repent later and try to be better. There are no victims. Through effort and instincts, they are able to make it without male help, using instead female support. The woman is her own hero and makes her own destiny.
One is not born female but becomes so
There’s a quote by Simone de Beauvour that matches the universal theme of Almodóvar’s movies. In All About My Mother, Antonia San Juan claims, “One is more authentic when she resembles what she’s dreamed for herself.” Gender and sexuality are free, and each identity is turned on its head to create reflection.
Women feel intense desire
Sex used to be a male dominated arena. Female characters were secondary and stale, only serving the main protagonist. Almodóvar makes a point for women to enjoy. Oppressed women rise up through irony and sarcasm, proving they are original, extravagant, active, and emotionally independent.
Translated by María Suárez