Splashing his colorful films across the dour post-Franco Spanish landscape with the irreverent glee of a prostitute arriving late to church after a long night, Pedro Almodóvar has been called the most influential Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel. Beginning in the 1980s, Almodóvar started serving up provocative, candy-colored visions fraught with postmodernist insight into everything from sex and violence to religion and the dangers of good gazpacho. Sometimes shocking, sometimes controversial, Almodóvar's films have always managed to present a new and intriguing view of his native country, shaping the attitudes of both his compatriots and a larger international audience.
Born September 25, 1951, in Calzada de Calatrava, an impoverished hamlet of La Mancha, Almodóvar was raised in a traditional Spanish household. He studied with Salesian monks, sang in the choir, and generally felt like a misfit; he was later to remark that, for him, growing up in such an environment was tantamount to being an astronaut in King Arthur's court. At the age of 12, on seeing Richard Brooks' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Almodóvar decided to give purpose to his alienation, marking himself down for "a life of sin and degeneracy." As a teenager, Almodóvar was influenced by the films of such directors as Billy Wilder, Douglas Sirk, Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Buñuel, Blake Edwards, and neorealists Marco Ferreri and Fernando Fernán-Gómez; deciding to pursue a career as a filmmaker, he got out of La Mancha and headed to Madrid in 1969. Working at a phone company by day, he wrote short stories, mock newsreels, and spoof commercials at night, as he also made Super-8 shorts and one Super-8 feature.