Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

June 6 - June 8

Early Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar (b. 1951) is one of the very few filmmakers living and working abroad today who is widely recognized and popular in the United States. Over the last ten years, Almodóvar has won American audiences and accolades through a series of stylish, heartfelt and frequently outrageous melodramas, beginning with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). Far lesser known, however, are Almodóvar’s earliest feature films, cheerfully shocking and hilarious comedies that first brought him to prominence in Spain by perfectly embodying the anything-goes spirit of the movida, the explosion of anarchic cultural (and sexual) energy that erupted after Franco’s death in 1975.

Long fascinated by the cinema, Almodóvar prepared to become a director not by attending film school (Spain’s national film school had been closed by the government in the 1960s) but by moving in 1967 to Madrid, where he dove into the city’s vibrant experimental theater scene and wrote prolifically for various underground magazines – satiric short stories as well as bold and often scabrous comic strips. In the early 1970s Almodóvar began to direct highly risqué Super -8mm films, silent shorts with explicit sexual content which were widely seen in the Madrid night clubs and bars where Almodóvar also performed in a popular glam rock parody band that formed around the same time. The short films eventually led to a Super-8 feature, Folle… folle.. Follame, Tim (1978), which gave Almodóvar the confidence and notoriety to advance to 16mm for his next feature, Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap (1980), whose tremendous critical and popular success launched his professional career as a filmmaker.

This mini-retrospective returns to the early, rarely revisited stage of Almodóvar’s storied career, tracing his progress from the deliberately rough hewn look and manic energy of Pepi, Luci, Bom… and the breakneck comic gem Labyrinth of Passion (1982) , to the sophisticated, innuendo rich satire of Dark Habits (1983) and What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), the film that brought him international prominence.

Special thanks: Manuel Llamas Antón, ICAA; Bárbara Peiró Aso, Lola García Rodríguez, El Deseo; Carlos Robles, Consul General of Spain in Boston; Brad Epps, Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard. Special support provided by the Provostial Funds Committee.


Saturday June 6 at 7pm

Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap (Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
With Carmen Maura, Félix Rotaeta, Alaska
Spain 1980, 35mm, color, 80 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print courtesy of Filmoteca Española

Pepi, Luci, Bom… began as a fotonovela published by Almodóvar in an underground Madrid zine. The film’s episodic plot expresses the movida’s revolution in social and sexual attitudes by tracing the various indignities suffered and inflicted by its eponymous heroines: a rape victim, a masochistic housewife and a lesbian punk rocker. Made on a shoestring and shot in 16mm with help from Almodóvar’s many friends from across Madrid’s various underground movements, Pepi, Luci, Bom…  offers a refreshing irreverence towards sexuality and social mores that recalls the 1970s films of John Waters.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Saturday June 6 at 9pm

What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Que he hecho yo para merecer esto?)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
With Carmen Maura, Luis Hostalot, Ángel de Andrés López
Spain 1984, 35mm, color, 101 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print courtesy of Filmoteca Española

Almodóvar’s fourth film perfects the mix of satire, melodrama, irony and farce that characterize his earliest internationally successful comedies that followed. Its title a lament from its beleaguered housewife protagonist, What Have I Done… follows the woman’s hilarious attempts to deal with an abusive husband, a drug-dealing son, a disapproving mother-in-law and a rogue’s gallery of neighbors. This razor-sharp ensemble comedy satirizes the influx of consumerism that swept into Spain following the end of the dictatorship, while offering a rich character study of a woman, like a Fassbinder heroine, trapped between stultifying tradition and a banal present.

Browse Other Series from this Season

Return to Top

Sunday June 7 at 7pm

Labyrinth of Passion (Laberinto de pasiones)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
With Cecilia Roth, Imanol Arias, Helga Liné
Spain 1982, 35mm, color, 99 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print courtesy of Filmoteca Española

A departure from the punk spirit of Luci, Pepi, Bom…, Almodóvar’s second feature offers a stylish blend of Hitchcock and screwball comedy that reveals his innate talent at imitating and reinventing Hollywood gloss. While Labyrinth of Passion centers on the converging paths of two sex-crazed unfortunates, the film also orchestrates a larger cast and a delirious pastiche of hot-button topics ranging from incest to Islamic terrorism to Lacanian psychoanalysis, all colored with the polymorphous pansexuality found throughout Almodóvar’s earliest works.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday June 8 at 7pm

Dark Habits (Entre tinieblas)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
With Cristina S. Pascual, Marisa Paredes, Mari Carrillo
Spain 1983, 35mm, color, 100 min. Spanish with English subtitles
Print courtesy of Filmoteca Española

With its bemused view of the veniality and hypocrisy of the human heart, Dark Habits brings Almodóvar perhaps the closest to his great Spanish precursor, Luis Buñuel, and the gulfs between public belief and private behavior, between religious dogma and human experience that were often an inspiration for Buñuel’s dark comedies. Taking place almost entirely in a crumbling convent where a punkish young singer takes refuge after her boyfriend overdoses, Dark Habits offers a clear and questioning allegory for the church’s changing role in contemporary Spain.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700