Ernesto Acevedo-Munoz’s essay about All About My Mother was interesting to read because of the historical moment it narrates within and alongside its analysis of the film. It’s very satisfying to read through a summary of a plot which is unabashedly absurd, whimsical, and melodramatic, and see near every part of it grounded to a social and political reality which renders the stakes of the story as stakes with legitimate and traceable consequences. I feel like that’s always an accomplishment of criticism, to take something absorbed as fantasy and show how it was grown from the politics of everyday life, from ordinary and lived circumstances, even as it provides a radical vision of escape from that mundane life.
The historical angle touched on connects this film to others in the class in ways I didn’t it to, namely in regards to the ways the film grapples with a fascist past. The camp aspects and intertextuality were features that were clear just from knowing the movie, but its situation in Spain’s history is brand new to me, and grounds the connections better. I think Fox and His Friends is the most immediately similar in its approach to telling a story set after the fact of fascism, in that neither of the films overtly reference this context, but its traces can be shown to mark them all over nonetheless. But more than I notice that comparison, I think Almodóvar’s film contrasts sharply to both Fox and His Friends and The Conformist in its optimism, and in how its queer elements are incorporated into that optimism. As Acevedo-Munoz points out, the trans characters in All About My Mother exist beyond and outside of trauma, functional and whole in spite of the past, instead of being permanently broken by it (31, 36). In Fox and His Friends and The Conformist, regardless if whether one feels they are homophobic or not, they have a conversely quite pessimistic or cynical view which leaves their queer characters in positions to be pitied in both cases, either for their helplessness as with Fox, or for the total withdrawal from any attempt at integrity displayed in both films. That also seems probably related to the historical particulars of each of the three movies – for example, the background of AIDS-spurred gay-consciousness that All About My Mother was made against.
Acevedo-Munoz, Ernesto. “The Body and Spain: Pedro AlmodÃ³varâsAll About My Mother.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 21.1 (2003): 25-38. Web.
All About My Mother. Dir. Pedro Almodóvar. By Pedro Almodóvar. Sony Pictures Classics, 1999.
The Conformist. Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci. 1969.
Fox and His Friends. Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder. 1975