Route through Almodóvar’s Madrid
What would Woody Allen’s filmography be like if there was no New York? And Sergio Leone’s without the Tabernas desert in Almería? Very different, I'm sure. The same could be said of Pedro Almodóvar’s filmography without Madrid. Neither Pepi, nor Luci, nor Bom, nor any other ‘girl of the heap’ would have any reason for being without the background of their truculent lives in the Madrid of the ‘Movida’ (counter cultural movement in Madrid during the transition to democracy). In fact, many consider that films like those led by these characters are the documentaries that best reflect the movement (of course Almodóvar has a head start as a chronicler of the Madrid Movida because he was there at the time).
Like many others, we believe that a good (and alternative) way to get to know Madrid is to follow a hypothetic route created on the basis of Almodóvar’s films using the capital as their backdrop.
The route could start with the Rastro, the popular open-air market put on every Sunday and bank holiday in the Spanish capital and which appears in ‘Labyrinth of Passion’. From here we might go to calle Bailén and contemplate the views from the Viaduct, one of the stages of ‘Matador’.
Then the route would go on to the Plaza Mayor, where visitors could try to emulate the dance that Juan Echanove made in the same location in a scene from ‘The Flower of My Secret’. We might then go on to calle Conde Duque, where one of the most famous scenes in Spanish cinema was shot: Carmen Maura sprayed with a cleaning worker’s hosepipe in ‘Law of Desire’.
Once here, we would go to the Gran Vía to look at the Telefónica building, the silhouette of which is made out from the rooftop of Carmen Maura’s character’s flat in ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’. Was this a wink from the director to the company where he worked in his early years in Madrid?
Carrying on around the Gran Vía, we can go to the convent in calle Hortaleza, which is the site of the story of the strange nuns in ‘Dark Habits’. We continue along Gran Vía until we reach calle Alcalá and here we walk to the famous gate (Puerta) of the same name, which appears at the beginning of ‘Live Flesh’.
And as Madrid is not only its centre, the Almodovarian route also includes peripheral districts such as la Concepción, the stage for the story of ‘What have I Done to Deserve This?’ and Vallecas (‘Volver’). There are different ways to get there: bus, metro, or better still, by taxi. Who knows, maybe we will be lucky and come across the eccentric ‘Mambo taxi’ of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’...