High Heels

As Liddel states in Imdb website, Almodovar, with this movie, seemed to have forgotten what made him special in the first place: “audacity, iconoclasm and fun”[1].   This may seem true if we were comparing “High Heels” to Almodovar movies of his early carrier only. His first long movie, “Pepi, Lucy, Bom” (1980), had a very special purpose. Almodovar, who lived through the “small bourgeoisie” period in Spain, under Franco, wished to open the cinema (and the eyes of his viewers) to the new liberties acquired following Franco’s death in 1975[2]. He was intrigued by drug use, adultery, sexually “perverse”, and so on.  As well, he is representing the new artistic movement called the “Movida”[3].  “High Heels” arrived eleven years later and Almodovar, in my opinion, does not have the same urge to reflect this revolution or comment on the new freedoms.

Even if I agree that “High Heels” is less excessive and less frivolous than his early movies, I still find everything that one finds is almost all of Almodovar’s movies. His exploration of sexual identities – including positive images of transvestites, bisexuals or homosexuals – are present. Also, there is certainly an aspect or element of art, creativity and/or performance.  I appreciate that the women in Almodovar’s work are usually given the starring role, and how much the director is able to touch us views into their emotional lives.  Pedro Almodovar is a filmmaker, but maybe more than anything he is a cinema buff.  His movies are littered with references to the best of American and World cinemas[4].  In the case of “High Heels”, Almodovar references Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata”.  A film that was quite inspirational for the overall theme of “High Heels” [5]

Because the importance he gives to the music of his film, unexpected musical sequences will pleasantly surprise the spectator[6]. Something I appreciated with this and other Almodovar movies is how the lyrics of the music and the plot often match. Most of the music of “High Heels” is based on the highly expressive boleros[7]. Also, an exciting dance scene in the prison surprises the watcher and reminds one of Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”[8].

He is also fond of disguise and duplicity in his characters. For example the complexity of the emotional life of Rebeca (the main charachter) and how much she makes us doubt of everything she says, to finally understand at the end what was true, and what was a lie, and why she lied.

With “High Heels”, Almodovar explores the complexities of the multiple versions of oneself, through Letal, a character that exhibits three completely different personas (transvestite, detective and junkie), complete with disguises.  This suggests that human emotions and desire can be so intricate and contradictory that one identity cannot contain them all.   The only person who has a single identity dies: the macho monster Manuel.

I disagree with Liddel (2000) and believe that “High Heels” demonstrates a subdued version, and a maturation of all the characteristics that made Almodovar ‘fun’.  A trend that continues in subsequent Almodovar works.


[1] Imdb, “Reviews & Ratings for High Heels”, accessed October 10, 2014, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103030/reviews.

[2] Nena, “La movida madrilène et le cinema de Pedro Almodovar”, Cinémania, February 24, 2014, http://cinemania.over-blog.fr/.

[3] Nancy Berthier, ‘’Pedro Almodovar: Au commencement était la Movida’’, Paris Sorbonne, Paris IV, 2014. Accessed October 11, 2014, http://savoirsenprisme.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/5-berthier.pdf.

[4] Jean-Luc Lacuve, ‘’Almodovar et la cinéphilie: du décalage au palimpseste’’, June 1, 2006. Accessed October 11, 2014, http://www.cineclubdecaen.com/realisat/almodovar/almodovarcinephile.htm.

[5] Gwynne Edwards, Almodovar: The Labyrinths of Passion, (Toronto: Scholarly Book Services, 2002), 124.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Mark Allinson, A Spanish Labyrinth:the films of Pedro Almodovar, (London : Tauris, 2001), 201.

[8] Frederic Strauss and Yves Baigneres, Almodovar on Almodovar, (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2006), 112-115.


2 thoughts on “High Heels

  1. I think this is a very detailed analysis of the film High Heels. And you provided abundant information about the Spanish director Almodovar and this piece of information can help those viewers understand Almodovar’s style and his personal environment as you mentioned in this writing. You contextualize Almodovar in his Spanish origin and maybe in this case sexual orientation and style can be functioned as a sign of liberation and you make a very interesting analogy between Almodovar’s overall style and his political environment. And you also commented on those characters in terms of their complex identities and various personalities characteristics and I think this is a very good source in terms of understanding the narrative and content of this film. Also, sexual identity is a very important theme in our culture that sometimes can determine who we are and what we are really about. And you also emphasize the importance of music be harmoniously reconciled with narration and this is a very good observation. And Almodovar tends to love referencing other Classical Hollywood film and in this case it is Ingrid Bergman’s Autumn Sonata. And I can see the complex narrative and psychological tension going on in this film that everything appears so dramatic. And I think this film may be interpreted as a suspension as it really involves several conflicts and crimes. You did a really good analysis and my only suggestion here is that it is better to provide a brief introduction of the story that can make this film more understandable to your readers.


  2. Although I have never seen any of Almodavar’s films, you provided a very in depth description of High Heels. However, I did search for a few clips on youtube to better understand the plot of the film – perhaps your post could have benefited from embedding a link to the film trailer. I really liked that you discussed the soundtrack of the film because I think this is an element that is often left out of movie reviews. You mentioned that the lyrics often match the plot of the film, I think this is a great way to help communicate tone or emotion to the viewer.


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