ISSUE 3 - 2019 (2)

Dolor y gloria. París-Tombuctú. IImages of Pessimism in the Cinema of Luis García Berlanga and Pedro Almodóvar

Juan Carlos Ibáñez (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)




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This audiovisual essay approaches the relationship between two very different films, released twenty years apart—namely, the comedy París-Tombuctú (Luis G. Berlanga, 1999) and the drama Dolor y gloria (Pedro Almodóvar, 2019). Both films are self-referential, close to the confessional genre, and create a symbolic discourse that deals with the relationship between maturity, illness and creative paralysis.

First, it is possible to understand the core of the stories that Berlanga and Almodóvar design beyond their respective narrative universes, through the reading of ancestral mythical archetypes, reveries that classical anthropology defines through their initiatory and ritual manifestations. Second, in both films, the tragic-comedic representation of the body’s collapse can be understood as a metaphor of the end of a historical cycle, as an expression of the maladjustment and collapse of the social consensus.

Berlanga capitalizes on the carnivalesque and Saturnal emotion of panic in approaching the end of the millennium. Almodóvar resorts to an increasingly fake and melodramatic “happy-ending”, making us aware of its cardboard textures, its constitution as a rhetorical simulacrum. In both cases, we are in front of the manifestation of a new pessimistic current within Spanish culture. This state of mind echoes the distant 98, erupting at the end of the 1990s and beginnings of the 21st century, and it is also at work in essays such as Todo lo que era sólido (Antonio Muñoz Molina, 2013) or La España vacía (Sergio del Molino, 2016), among others.