A film-fan's trip to Almodóvar's Spain
EL DESEO, D.A., S.L.U. Foto: Teresa Isasi
Still from the film 'All About My Mother'
A filmmaker revered all over the world. The winner of two Oscars and the creator of a daring, transgressive universe that revolutionised how people saw Spain. We’re talking about the director Pedro Almodóvar. And we’ve got a great idea for you: discovering the places in Spain that were the settings for his films. See if you can identify streets you first saw in movies like “Volver”. Welcome to a film route.
If cinema is one of your passions, this route is going to delight you. Discovering “Almodóvar’s Spain” will take you into a different Spain, where reality and fiction merge, and cemeteries and neighbourhoods are the building blocks of life. Follow the director’s trail from the place where he was born, Castilla-La Mancha, to Madrid and Barcelona, where he became a mature artist.
Castilla-La Mancha, the director’s birthplace
Pedro Almodóvar was born in this region of inland Spain, and as he says, was indelibly marked by “the red earth, the yellow fields, the grey-green olive trees and the courtyards full of life.” This traditional way of life will enchant you when you go there and find the cobbled streets and bright colours. You’ll also find a route throughout the province of Ciudad Real designed in homage to the director. The route starts in Puertollano, where the Municipal Auditorium held the world premiere of the film “Volver”, and where you can see the Mining Museum, the church of La Asunción and a spring of bitter water.
36 kilometres further on, Calzada de Calatrava is the town where the filmmaker was born. Don’t miss Pedro Almodóvar Park, Rafael Serrano Cultural Centre (once the cinema where Almodóvar went as a child, and now home to the “Pedro Almodóvar Caballero” Cinema Cultural Association) and the 19th century hall where the locals watch the Oscars.
The cinematic journey continues at Granátula de Calatrava, 11 kilometres away. There you’ll find the cemetery from the opening scene of the film “Volver”. The last stop, and one of the most beautiful, is Almagro, 12 kilometres further on. Its Plaza Mayor was the square where Almodóvar found a traditional house with a courtyard to be one of the settings of “Volver”, and it’s just a few metres from another house where “The Flower of My Secret” was filmed. Another curious fact: Calle Federico Relimpio is the street that a funeral procession travels down in “Volver”. After you enjoy these settings, don’t forget to see Almagro’s lovely 17th-century Corral de Comedias and the traditional mansions of the Noble district.
Madrid, the confirmation of an artist
Apart from the region of his birth, if any location is linked to the work of Almodóvar it’s Madrid, which he has portrayed with a combination of tradition and avant-garde. This route is available if you want to trace Almodóvar’s steps through the city. If you like traditional neighbourhoods with the old winding streets and balconies which appear in films like “Talk To Her”, visit the area of the Rastro (it has a famous outdoor flea market as depicted by Almodóvar in “Labyrinth of Passion”), the Antón Martín district, or the cemetery of La Almudena.
But “Almodóvar’s Madrid” also includes some of the capital’s most important places and sights. The Gran Vía with its bright lights in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”, the lovely Plaza Mayor where one of the characters dances in “The Flower of my Secret”, and Puerta de Alcalá as seen at the start of “Live Flesh” are the best examples.
Don’t forget that, although Madrid appears in most of Almodóvar’s films, the director was also attracted to Barcelona (Catalonia) for his Oscar-winning “All About My Mother”. The most fun? Watching the film and then spotting some of the iconic sights that appear in it, such as Montjuïc cemetery, the Columbus Monument, Plaça Reial, the Sagrada Familia and Güell Park.
These destinations are ideal for enjoying nature in Castilla-La Mancha, culture in Madrid and modernity and the coast in Barcelona. One thing is certain: you’ll have fun in all of them as you recognise the iconic scenes from Almodóvar’s unique world of contrasts.If you found this article interesting, you can find more information at: Spain, a big-screen destination
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