Posted by Sarah
All are welcome to attend the seventh of this term’s screening and discussion sessions which will take place on the 11th of December in Keynes Seminar Room 6, from 4pm to 7pm.
We will be screening a joint choice: The Skin I Live In (2011, Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 120 mins).
Kat has very kindly provided the following introduction:
Released in 2011, Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, is an exploration of the nature of human identity. It visits most of the preoccupations of Almodovar’s work over the past thirty years, from maternal devotion through sexual identity to obsessional activity.
The film is based on the French novel, Mygale (published in this country as Tarantula), in which an eminent French plastic surgeon has a practice at a public hospital in Paris, a private clinic in Boulogne, a secret operating theatre in the basement of his suburban mansion, a beautiful, submissive partner called Eve whom he keeps under lock and key, and a teenage daughter in an asylum. Almodovar has relocated the narrative to Toledo, a city south of Madrid and played with the relationships. In the film, Antonio Banderas plays the part of plastic surgeon, Robert Ledgard, who lives a stylish life with a devoted housekeeper to look after his beautiful mysterious prisoner, whose name has been changed from Eve (from the novel) to the more ambiguous Vera. Robert’s principal public project, inspired by his late wife’s destruction in a motor accident, is the development of a new form of skin that will be sensitive to the touch but resistant to fire. However, he’s also involved in secret activities of a more dangerous nature. They’re to do with revenge at a personal level and, on a cosmic plane, with challenging the very character of human identity.
The film is rich, complex, and is a skilful piece of storytelling that reorganises time and, in characteristic Almodovar fashion, challenges our preconceptions about everyday life and personal conduct. Beyond that, I do not wish to give away any more plot spoilers for those who have not seen it!
The reason why I thought this would make an apt screening for the melodrama group is in how the film plays with conventions and plot structures associated with the Gothic melodrama. Indeed, the film critic for The Observer, Philip French, described the film as ‘a combination of dark thriller, gothic horror story and poetic myth’. There is much that can be discussed regarding gender, identity, melodrama and the Gothic in relation to The Skin I Live In.
Below is a link to an article, in which Paul Smith, Professor in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at CUNY, discusses the film with the editor of Film Quarterly, Rob White. Although the article isn’t overly warm towards the film, it does touch upon some of the more interesting themes and concerns of The Skin I Live In.
Do Join us, if you can, for Keeley’s introduction on the day and, of course the film itself!