Pedro Almodóvar: 'I could say 20% of what you see is a direct projection of my personal memories'
- James Mottram
- 21 August 2019
Movie maestro discusses his latest film, Pain and Glory, in which a filmmaker looks back over his life
'I think in the life of every human being there is pain and there is glory,' pronounces Pedro Almodóvar, with gnomic wisdom. Certainly the Spaniard, dressed today in a bright yellow shirt, knows more than most about glory. For the past 40 years, he's been his nation's most revered director, with movies like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her and Volver. Put simply, 'I have done the films that I've wanted.'
Yet as he approaches his 70th birthday next month, he has known pain too – at least of the physical kind. Over the years, he's suffered from chronic back problems, tinnitus and sensitivity to light. And so we come to the twenty-first film of his career, a semi-autobiographical drama called – you guessed it – Pain and Glory. 'I started writing about my back pains, so that was the first impulse,' he explains. From here, protagonist Salvador Mallo, an ageing, ailing film director in a creative slump, began to take shape. 'It came very naturally.'
While Almodóvar is no stranger to auto-fiction – this is the man, after all, who made 1999's sublime All About My Mother – Pain and Glory is arguably the closest he's come to holding up a mirror to himself. 'It's me but it's also fiction,' he counters. 'I haven't been necessarily in the same direction as he has, and I haven't done what he's done. But it could have happened to me. I could say 20% of what you see is a direct projection of my personal memories.'