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Aesthetics, Ethics and Trauma in the Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar

Julián Daniel Gutiérrez-Albilla

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A new critical and theoretical approach to a neglected aspect of Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema

One of Spain’s most celebrated directors, Pedro Almodóvar has won international recognition for his dark comedy-dramas like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My Mother and Volver. Reconceptualising Almodóvar’s films as theoretical and political resources, this innovative book examines a neglected aspect of his cinema: its engagement with the traumatic past, with subjective and collective memory, and with the ethical and political meanings that result from this engagement. With close readings of Almodóvar’s films from the 1990s and 2000s, including Bad Education and The Skin I Live In, Julián Daniel Gutiérrez-Albilla explores how Almodóvar’s cinema mourns and witnesses the traces of trauma, drawing on theoretical approaches from trauma studies, psychoanalysis, philosophy, film studies and visual studies to suggest that his work proposes an ethical model based on our compassionate relations to others, and envisions a world co-inhabited by plurality and difference.

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Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction: Encountering the Trace
1. Im-Possibility of Not-Returning: Volver
2. Im-Possibility of Not-Sharing: Todo sobre mi madre
3. Im-Possibility of Not-Writing Otherwise: La mala educación
4. Im-Possibility of Not-Succumbing: La piel que habito
Notes
References
Index

About the Author

Julián Daniel Gutiérrez-Albilla is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Queering Buñuel: Sexual Dissidence and Psychoanalysis in his Mexican and Spanish Cinema (2008), and co-editor with Parvati Nair of Hispanic and Lusophone Women Filmmakers: Theory, Practice and Difference (2013) and with Rob Stone of Companion to Luis Buñuel (2013).

Reviews

Brilliant and original work by one of the most intellectually and ethically committed scholars working on Spanish-language film. Gutiérrez-Albilla engages lucidly with, and generously elucidates Derrida, Lévinas, Deleuze and Ettinger to raise questions about the trace of trauma associated with the Franco Regime in recent films by Almodóvar.

- Professor Jo Evans, UCL

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