Research Paper: Almodovar in La Ley Del

Pages: 7 (2237 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Desire transcends gendered identity and performativity. Which person plays the role of seducer vs. seductress is all part of the act of gender performativity. In The Law of Desire, all the main characters find themselves in both roles.

Smith claims that The Law of Desire is "Almodovar's most autobiographical film," (79). If this is true, Almodovar would have written himself into the character of Pablo the gay filmmaker, whose sister's (brother's) name is Tina. Smith points out that Almodovar's brother's nickname is Tinin. Almodovar is known to have admitted the autobiographical references, claiming that two specific instances in the film reveal ways his own narrative of desire plays itself out in the script of The Law of Desire. One of these two instances is Tina's experience of abuse at then hands of a choirmaster; the other is Pablo's sending a classic, passionate love letter to Juan which requests Juan's signature and sign of his submission to desire (Smith 79). Almodovar reportedly sent no such letter but had thought of it (Smith).

Unrequited love and desire is the most important theme of The Law of Desire. Desire has nothing to do with love, or actually liking someone. Rather, desire is an all-consuming state of mind. Whether it is a dysfunctional state or not is irrelevant, mostly, but desire certainly is destructive to the main characters of the Law of Desire. Whatever it is, desire is not love. Love is that which exists between Pablo and Tina as brother and sister, or between Tina and her niece Ada. Smith claims the platonic type of love has a "privileged status" because it is immune from the destructive power of desire and the "frantic displacements of erotic affairs," (81).

Almodovar describes his vision of desire as being all-encompassing and totally annihilating to reason. He has called desire for another person "the only thing in your head right now, and…it includes every imaginable state of mind, from delight to despair," (cited by Smith 80). Like Pablo in The Law of Desire, Almodovar admits to not "feeling" as desired by others as he desires them (Smith 80). Therefore, Almodovar might be using The Law of Desire not as the "shameless and unbridled manifesto" as some have accused it of being; nor even as a personal "purging" or outlet (Smith 80). Rather, The Law of Desire comes closest to being "film as bodily discharge or psychic release" (Smith 80). Indeed, Pablo's film-within-the-film has this precise literal effect on Antonio who experiences Pablo's creation as a bodily discharge and a psychic release at the same time.

The Law of Desire solidified Almodovar's position as "the most artistically ambitious and commercially consistent film-maker in Europe" (Smith ix). Desire is a universal theme, independent of the gender or sexuality of the characters. Almodovar explores the theme of desire and the power it has over the human spirit. Desire impacts human relationships, straining them beyond repair and making some individuals go insane. Because desire is directly contrasted with love in The Object of Desire, Almodovar suggests that desire might even be contradictory to love. Love is a purer thing, and is detached from sexuality. If Almodovar suggests that sexuality and desire are entwined, then the filmmaker ventures into dangerous territory related to the possibility of desire that includes love. The pessimism embedded in the melodrama of The Law of Desire denies the main characters the fulfillment of desire within the context of "privileged" spaces of love. Only at the end of the film do both Pablo and Antonio seem to level with each other within a strange and psychically charged space in which desire has been sublimated for the need of emotional understanding. All Pablo, Pedro, and Tina want is to love and be loved.

Works Cited

Almodovar, Pedro. "The Law of Desire/La Ley del Deseo." 1987. Feature film.

Alvarez, Jose L. And Svejenova, Silviya. "Symbiotic careers in movie making: Pedro and Agustin Almodovar." Retrieved online:

Dyer, Richard and Vincendeau, Ginette. Popular European Cinema. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Kamir, Orit. "Feminist Law and Film: Imagining Judges and Justice." Chicago-Kent Law Review. 2000.

Kinder, Marsha. "Pleasure and the New Spanish Mentality: A Conversation with Pedro Almodovar." Film Quarterly. Vol. 41. No. 1. 1987.

Maddison, Stephen. "All About Women: Pedro Almodovar and the Heterosocial Dynamic." Textual Practice. Vol 14, No. 2, p.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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