Representation of Rape in Almodóvar’s Cinema

Vladimir CERIĆ


This paper questions ethical, political and gender issues of representations of rape in films of Pedro Almodóvar. From the beginning of his career he deals with the effects of trauma through the lives of common people, and through their lives, he stresses the consequences and general effects of the transition of Spanish society after the death of Francisco Franco. Almodóvar is well-known as feminist director; however, most of the negative critiques came from his representations of rape, although, according to his own words, his representations of rape should liberate and empower women. The rape, as a theme is present in nine of his films: Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), Matador (1986), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989), Kika (1993), Talk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), To Return (2006), Broken Embraces (2009), The Skin I Live In (2011). The representation of rape, as a core element of many of his stories, makes a productive tension between right and wrong; both when concerning ethical problem of representation of rape itself, and the storylines which Almodóvar uses to exploit the rape as a narrative element. His representation of rape is sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit. In these films, the victim usually passes through a process of transformation, alike in American rape-revenge films. This process provides some form of justice for the victim and a fresh start; however, it is usually beyond judicial system and state administration. The rapists seem as random characters for serving plots, yet they are archetypes of rapists, classified by evolutionary psychologists. Almodóvar’s victims and rapists are represented through complex social relationships, in camp-style satire and irony setting. 

Keywords: representation of rape, trauma, gender, Almodóvar