Pedro Almodóvar on Pain and Glory | BFI Q&A

Pedro Almodóvar on Pain and Glory | BFI Q&A


– Pedro, congratulations, it is such a beautiful film, it’s personal, political,
it interweaves history, memory, motherhood, creativity, desire into a very rich and moving narrative. Tell me a little bit about
the genesis of the film. Where did the film come from? Because I know with your work, you often draw on many different sources, when you’re pulling together a screenplay. – Yeah, well at the beginning, really the moment I start writing the first sequence of the script. A summer after being operated on my back, and I was having a post operation, very painful and it was through pain, that I start to write. I usually don’t do that, because I don’t use writing and making a movie as a kind of therapy. But in anyway, I remember
that that summer, the peaceful moment for me, it was when I was under the water. Where they, in gravity, made that is, there were no tension. No physical tension at all. And that was very quiet moment for me. After repeating this almost everyday, then I thought “perhaps this
is a good image to a start.” And then I started writing about this. And just in a natural way, I mean the water of the swimming pool it drive at me to another kind of stream. Corriente’s a stream. – Yes. – A stream of the river. The Annie, there’s the
reader of my childhood. And it is that memory belongs to my life. Perhaps it is one of the more bright and luminous and happy
memories of that period. That even the work for women, was in clothes at honour. We call (speaking in Spanish). I’m talking about the ’50s. – A board. – The abortion board. – It was very hard, but it was full of life. They used to sing and it was really something that’s kind
of explosion of life. Cease that moment that I– because I didn’t want to talk about pain, really, in the movie or not only about that. And also, I didn’t want to complain. Yes, being respectful with
the many, many, many people that ar in the world, that
they having real pain, bigger than everything that I can imagine. So And also I didn’t want to make a sombre and pessimist movie. So I cease the moment
that, through the water, I reach the memory of my childhood. I decided to combine present, the present that well obviously Antonio Banderas’ character is a reflection of the
moment that I was living. But also combine it with part of my memories of my childhood, that I didn’t use before. Or not all of them, because for simple there the sequence of when Jurin, when he’s in the school and the priest, he is proving their voices to choice the soloist of the choral. This could be a sequence of Bad Education. And also, even the first the first sequence in the river, also could belong to Volver, because they are the two movies, that I talk about my childhood. So that was the origin but not only, when I start writing, I’m not so brilliant, to come to a moment when I say “well, this boy, “this guy is going to play a monologue.” and then I write the monologue, just throw it away and
everything is wonderful. When I was writing, taking the bandage off, having a character that
have my same profession, I mean is a director and writer. So then I had, at the moment, I had already written three set pieces, because I used to do that. I mean just even sometimes for
fun, I write a shorter story, that I keep it in my computer. And there were three parts
that they were included into this script and feed them, very well
to the main character. That was the first desire, also, the monologue, it was different, because the protagonist
was obviously male, it was a little different but the main theme, it was there. And also, I’m meeting with an actor that I had a really bad
relation in fiction. (laughs) And then I took the last
as part of the script, and the result is what you saw tonight. – It’s a very good result, I think. – Thank you. – There’s a lot of you, you’ve talked about a lot
of you being in the film? So the apartment where Antonio
Banderas’ character lives, is constructed in the Madrid studio but it’s very based on your apartment. A lot of the furniture is yours. Your own artworks feature. And you’ve also used
lines from you own family. Tell us about the process of bringing all those things together. So there’s clearly a
lot of you in the film, but there’s also a lot of fiction. – Yeah always, there is always fiction. Even if you try to make a memoir. Since the moment that you’re writing, that is a distance between the stuff that you are telling and the result. And also even when you use your memory, sometimes your memories changing through the, with the time. So of course that is a moment that my reflection in the script was mixed with fiction. And also there is a moment when fiction is the one that rules the game. And it doesn’t matter if you are telling about real things. What I try to find, is to be believable, better see me– – Plausible, plausible. – As a film. Then at the end you don’t look at reality, but look at the believable as a movie. (speaking in Spanish) – So in the movie, not only the character, but a lot of the other elements,
like the music, the house, the furniture, the art
work are very familiar. – (speaking in Spanish) – When I say I talking about
things that are familiar to me, it doesn’t mean I’ve
experienced everything that you see in the movie. I’ve appropriated a lot of
memories from my brother, my sisters, my friends, that reflect a lot of the
experiences from the ’80s. – (speaking in Spanish) (everyone laughs) (speaking in Spanish) ‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me! – Gimme a minute. And even the music and the songs I’ve got a relationship with. During the Q and A scene, the Q and A that doesn’t physically
happen, there’s a song (speaking in Spanish) – (speaking in Spanish) – How could you do this to me. – Yeah, by a band that very much dates the film that you’re seeing
were very dear friends of mine, Alaska y Dinerama. And it very much dates the film from 1985, and they were also my friends, and even the use of the
songs of Chavela Vargas, who was a great friend and a
constant inspiration for me. And as well, Mina, the use of the Italian
singer Mina’s songs. Both Mina and Chavela form an emotional family for me, as well and I haven’t heard anyone
sing about abandonment with such power as Mina. – No as Chavela. – As Chavela, sorry, as Chavela. – (clears throat) Well that’s about music on the script. (everyone laughs) – Think you’ve covered about
10 answers in that question. Tell me a little bit about
working with Antonio, because one of the things that I think is so exquisite about
film is his performance. He’s extraordinary in it. It feels like a very
different Antonio Banderas to anything I’ve ever seen on screen and I think it’s really interesting, he was talking at Cannes
of having made 113 films, and this is the happiest
he’s ever been as an actor. – (speaking in Spanish) – I think Antonio’s renewed himself as an actor in this film. – (speaking in Spanish) – I recognised that when
I finished the script, I had Antonio in mind, I had him in mind, but I also put some
other names on the table, because I realised that what I was gonna
be asking of Antonio, was something that he hadn’t done before. It was a register that I
hadn’t seen him do before. – (speaking in Spanish) – And not only in terms
of his Hollywood roles, but also the work he’s done with me. That intensity and that bravery that he shows in his performances are limits that I didn’t want
to use for this character. – (speaking in Spanish) – It was very difficult to
call up Antonio Banderas, and tell him, “the last thing I want you to be is Antonio Banderas.” (everyone laughs) – (speaking in Spanish) – I sent him the script, which
fortunately he really liked, and I thought we needed
to have this conversation of using amongst the wide range of his capabilities as an actor, this particular tone
that this role required. – (speaking in Spanish) – Fortunately, that wasn’t
that necessary conversation, because Antonio knew that the
film demanded and acting style and tonalities that were different from what he’d been specialised
in up until that point. I thought it was gonna
be harder for both of us, but I agree with what Maria just said, that it is one of his most
beautiful performances, and the generosity and his intensity as an actor comes through. – And so with Antonio, always is someone very physical, but anyway, his physicality here was, it was pressing because
he suffers from pain. But Antonio is not an actor that I used to rehearse a lot with him, always. Since the beginning, since the ’80s. He has an incredible intuition and an incredible instinct. And he never imitate me in the movie, but he has had capacity of
being impregnated by myself. So we didn’t rehearse before. During the pre production. Which is exactly the opposite that I used to do with Penelope. I direct every actor in a different way, depending on the type of person, and the type of actor they are. And usually they are not the same. For example, Penelope needs a long time of making, rehearsals. That is one moment, that
happens like one month later, when she’s in contact with the character and then she dominates
completely the character and then you can ask her anything you want and she’s always perfect. But she needs a period of being conscious of what is about every
aspect of the character. So we, in the six movie
that I made with her, we always did it in that way. During the process of pre production, I used to rehearse with her and in general, with
the rest of the actors, because also, the rehearsals, for me, in the pre production, they are not thinking about their works, also helped me a lot, to find the appropriate
lines of the script, and I adapt. One of the last writing of the script, is when I am rehearsing with the actors. Then I discover, because usually when you write, you don’t write in the
same way that we talk. Also, it is necessary to
make that and have patients to be very colloquial? So I also use and that helps me a lot. It rehearse with them to
adapt at the last minute. These two months of pre production. The character underlines
to the real actors that they are going to do it. Because also, depending of the actor, I also adapt the character, like a tailor making a shoe for them. – Tell me about, one of my
favourite scenes in the film, well a number of them, between Julieta Serrano
and Antonio Banderas, the older mother, and they’re talking about the past. And it’s the third time Julieta’s played Antonio’s
mother in a film? – Yes. – But that reflects in many
ways, your own process, because a number of those scenes, you wrote while making the film, they weren’t in the draught of the screenplay you began working with? – Yeah, it’s true that I, I write many times the script. Once I have the first draught, it means I (mumbles) when the script is finished, then there is the moment really to write because you know
everything about the story, and everything about the characters, and the recreation and all that. But for me, (speaking in Spanish) – Every single part of the process, that include the pre production and the actual shooting of the film, are very live processes for me. – (speaking in Spanish) – Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve written or rewritten something, because the writing process for me, is always alive and it’s
always correcting itself. – (speaking in Spanish) – Doesn’t matter how many times
I’ve rewritten the script, because during the shoot, me, myself, I can find new elements, that become really important
parts of they story, and I can incorporate them into the film. – (speaking in Spanish) – And that’s given to
me by the actual shoot. It’s absolutely impossible to
think about them beforehand, because they’re a product of
the relationship of the actor with the set and with the script. – (speaking in Spanish) – Because when I started
working with Julieta Serano, who’s the actress who
plays the older version of the protagonist’s mother,
she had very few scenes and the significance of this character is the entrance of death into the story. – (speaking in Spanish) – Not only the idea of
the death of the mother, but the idea of death itself
because Antonio’s character is playing a very
dangerous game with heroin. – (speaking in Spanish) – That was the reason for
her presence in the movie, but once the shoot
started, at home one night, before shooting the corridor scene, I improvised two scenes that I think are now absolutely pivotal to that character and to the film, which are the ones where
she speaks to her son about his failings as a son. – (speaking in Spanish) – I chose that there was great moments of silence between the two of them and a lot of things that
were remaining unspoken. – (speaking in Spanish) – Even some unfinished business on the side of the mother. – (speaking in Spanish) – And it serves me that
Antonio’s character has this opportunity to tell her, because he knows this, himself, that he was never the son
that she really wanted. – (speaking in Spanish) – Because in one of the earlier scenes, when she was saying “who
did this boy come out like?” it wasn’t the strangeness
that she saw in him, it wasn’t coming from a place of pride. – (speaking in Spanish) – And it was very
important for the character to say that the problem was that he was simply the way that he was and that he was very sorry about that. – (speaking in Spanish) – This scene is not al all
inspired from my own life, I never lived through this
particular moment with my mother. – (speaking in Spanish) – But it is a great
importance in the film, and it also speaks a
lot about the otherness that I felt as a child. – (speaking in Spanish) – The otherness and the
strangeness in the eyes of the other people in the village and sometimes even the cruelty of other children in my school, which I can see in their eyes, which made me feel different. – (speaking in Spanish) – And sometimes you need to
be deep into a shoot already, to discover that you really need to write and include those scenes. – Well I’m very glad you’re– – You don’t mind if I use the glasses? Because the centre lights just kill me. – Let me open things out to the audience. – (speaking in Spanish) – First of all, I have to apologise because I show black
characters in this film in a scene as drug dealers. So I apologise about that, I have to say that Madrid is
a deeply multi-cultural city and obviously people of
colour have other jobs that are not dealing drugs. (audience laughs) – (speaking in Spanish) – (speaking in Spanish) – (speaking in Spanish) (audience laughs) – A sentence I never thought I’d say, I would like to shoot a porn
movie with black characters. – Kind of a porno version of Shaft. I was watching on TV just before coming to this place, I was watching Shaft, the original movie. – A porn version of Shaft. – (speaking in Spanish) – I think about my childhood and about starting to watch films, and discovering cinema, and I think about it in technicolour, about these very vibrant, very dynamic colours. – (speaking in Spanish) – I think when I became a film director, I very consciously was always looking for the particular colour
tones of technicolour, of recreating that. Which obviously, for
technical and chemical reasons can no longer be done. – (Speaking in Spanish) – When I started making cinema, one of the things I had very clear, one of the very few things I had clear, was that I wasn’t going to
be making a naturalistic type of cinema. I wanted to embrace artifice in my films. – (speaking in Spanish) – So I act like a painter
that uses 3D objects, and my process, when it comes to decor, is very much like painting, where I’m playing around with different colours and combinations. – (speaking in Spanish) – I establish first, the base, the floors, which are incredibly important, because they are the parts
that we see the most, they’re the parts that the
characters are walking on. So it’s the floors and the walls that are the most important start. – (speaking in Spanish) I know that it must be done, I’m very technical. (everyone laughs) – So when I have the wall, I become a nightmare for the art director on that shoot, because I ask not for one sofa, but for various sofas,
in different colours. And I rehearse with the actors
on them against the wall and I take pictures of
this process as well, and I play around by placing the actors with their different coloured costumes, against the different coloured sofas, against the wall. – And with the furniture all together. – The furniture. – (speaking in Spanish) – I think that my love
for vibrant colours, also comes from the fact
that I was born and raised in a very osteon, very monochromatic area of Spain, called Numantia. – (speaking in Spanish) – It’s a reaction against
the place I was born. – (Speaking in Spanish) – A film where there is a
film director in crisis, will always be reminiscent of 8 1/2, which is a monument of
a film, on that subject. – (speaking in Spanish) – I hope you don’t compare me to 8 1/2 or to Fellini, because
I’m only going to lose in that situation. (audience laughs) – (speaking in Spanish) – Try to do a very
different type of movie, very conscious of the fact that any comparison
would always be negative. – (speaking in Spanish) – Aside from the fact
that they both feature the same type of character film director, the presence of the mother is also very special in both films. But the only moment that
truly reminded me of 8 1/2, was the moment where
they arrived to Paterna and there is this true orgy or bedsheets, kind of dwindling and
moving around in the wind. – (speaking in Spanish) – Fillini’s one of my absolute
favourite film makers, although I didn’t think
of him during the shoot and to be honest, I didn’t have any other film director in mind while I was shooting. – (speaking in Spanish) – When I was (mumbles), when the dailies from the new scenes, between Antonio and his mother arrived, my editor told me that this reminded her a lot of Bergman cinema and I love that because I love the idea of people being able to see the influence of Bergman cinema in my cinema, although one, at first glance, they have very little to
do with with each other. – Okay. – Before we finish, wonderfully translated, we have All About My Mother,
talking about mothers, playing here at nine o’clock, please do stay, those of you who are fans of Pedro cinema. Pedro, tell people to stay
and watch All About My Mother. – Oh yes, please, come on. – What would you say
about All About My Mother to get people to stay? To get people to stay, to watch All About My Mother. – Well, fortunately, the movie’s very different from this. There is a lot of humour. Sometimes it looks like a comedy. I don’t know, I wish for so
many prizes around the world, that for me, the bigger
prize of all of them, will be if you stay here tonight. – Yes!(laughs) (audience cheers) – Thank you. – Pedro Almodóvar. Thank you so much, Anna
thank you for translating and thank you to all of you for staying. (audience cheers)

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