Faking Spain
Matador
in The cinema of Pedro Almodóvar
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This chapter analyses Pedro Almodóvar’s attack on complacent attitudes towards democratic Spain in the 1980s and his ambivalent use of cinematic and other Spanish cultural traditions such as bullfighting, with particular focus on his most symbolic film, Matador, inspired by Ôshima’s Ai no korïda. Analysing how two equally constructed versions of Spanishness are placed in dialogue (the traditional, Catholic, conservative Spain fostered during the dictatorship and the ‘modern’ Spain of the Transition symbolised by the fashion world), it argues that Almodóvar is parodying both by denaturalising the españolada. Matador’s use of local colour has obscured its satire of typically Spanish symbols and traditions, particularly outside Spain where reception has been steeped in the orientalism that produced these stereotypes in the first place. The chapter includes a section on the film’s failure to deconstruct gender roles via its use of Gothic and noir intertexts such as Bride of Frankenstein and tropes such as the femme fatale.

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