Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón

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Title sequence screenshot of Pepi, Luci, Bom

Almodóvar’s first film, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón is a time capsule of Madrid in the early 1980s, recently released from 40 years of Franco’s dictatorship. It’s a product of the times, and it’s apparent that Almodóvar is a novice director. It’s most famous for a certain scene in the kitchen (which actually used beer). It’s considered somewhat of a documentary of the early movida madrileña movement of the 80s.

Pepi (Carmen Maura) is growing marijuana on the balcony of her apartment, and when a policeman (Félix Rotaeta) comes to investigate, he rapes her. Pepi is hellbent on revenge, so she has her friends, dressed in traditional Spanish outfits (only seen these days at Spanish festivals) attack the police officer. Too bad it’s his twin brother. She then befriends the cop’s wife, Luci (Eva Siva), in a plan of revenge. During her first knitting class, Luci confides to Pepi that she has a masochist side her husband never lets her explore. Pepi’s young punk rocker friend, Bom (Alaska), stops by. Pepi tells Bom to urinate on Luci. This liberates Luci, who decides to take a walk on the wild side. The trio explore the movida (the wild Madrid nightlife of the 1980s) and get into misadventures, including a “General Erection” contest to parody the 1978 Spanish General Elections (I’ll leave it to the imagination what they were voting on). Cecilia Roth has a cameo as the star of a commercial for women’s underwear which Pepi is writing the ad for.

As I am a Hispanic studies major who has studied Almodóvar at length, I might be seeing things here, but I believe the film can be read at a deeper level. Luci is a metaphor for traditional Spain (IE Francoist Spain) , Bom is New Spain (not to be confused with New Coke. This is the 80s!), and Pepi is the thread connecting them (La Transición). Of course Almodóvar, a member of new, non traditionalist Spain, wants to mark his territory on Spanish tradition and give his opinion on the Franco regime. Watching the film with these metaphors in mind, viewers can appreciate an otherwise average film (especially when we see what Almodóvar is capable in his later career) in a whole new way.

Rating: B

Almodóvar Checklist:

Chicas Almodóvar: Carmen Maura, Alaska, Eva Siva, Cecilia Roth
Antonio Banderas: No
Poisoned Gazpacho: No
Madrid: Sí
Galicia: No
Drugs: Sí
Musical Sequence: Sí
Men Too Gay To Function: Sí
Transvestites: Sí
Furniture Ikea Could Never Market: Sí
Surreal rape scene: Sí
Meta Slow Camera Pan To Show How Much He Really Loves Cinema: Sí
Mirror Scene: No
Dress from Lady Gaga’s rejected pile: No
Aspect of Spanish Culture Turned On Its Head: Luci, representing Spanish tradition, becomes seduced by Bom, representing modern Spain. Rooms traditionally kitchens are now toilets. Women are shown as strong and independent.
Nuns: Surprisingly, no.
Catholic Church As Bad Guy: No.
Taxi: Yes
His mother: No
Odd Advertisement: Sí.

La primera película de Almodóvar, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del mónton es una capsula de tiempo de Madrid durante el inicio de los años 80, recienmente liberado de la dictadura de Franco que duró 40 años. Es un producto de la epóca, y se nota que Almodóvar era un novato.  Tiene fama una cierta escena de la cocina (que en actualidad usó cerveza.) Se considera la pelicula un documental del inicio de la movida madrileña de los 80. 

Pepi (Carmen Maura) cultiva marijuana en el balcón de su piso. Cuando un policia  (Félix Rotaeta) viene para investigar, le viola a Pepi. Pepi está determinada vengarse su violación. Contrata a sus amigos para atacar el policia (vestidos en la ropa tradicional de España que solo se ve en fiestas españolas). Una pena que sea su gemelo. Después, se hace buenas migas con la mujer del policia en su plan de veganza. Luci (Eva Siva) va a dar clases de punto a Pepi, y durante la primera clase, Luci confide a Pepi que tiene un lado masoquista que su marido nunca le deja explorar. La amiga joven punkera (Alaska) de Pepi viene a visitarle, y Pepi convence a Bom orinar Luci. Eso se libra a Luci, quien decide soltarse su lado salvaje. El trio de chicas explora la movida y encuentra aventuras, incluso un concurso de “Erecciones generales” que es una satira de los elecciones generales de 1978 (os dejo la imaginación para adivinar lo que estaban votando).  Cecilia Roth tiene un papel pequeño como la estrella de un anuncio de bragas (Pepi es la escritora del anuncio). 

Dado que estudié estudios hispánicos en la universidad y estudié mucho sobre Almodóvar, quizá esté viendo cosas que no existen, pero creo que se puede leer la peli como algo más profundo. Luci es una metáfora de la España tradicional (la España de Franco), Bom es Nueva España y Pepi es el enlace que se ata (La Transición). Desde luego, Almodóvar, un socio de la Nueva España anti-tradicional, quiere dar su opinión de Franco y la tradición española. Ver la peli con estas metáforas en la mente, los espectadores pueden apreciar una peli mediocre (cuando ya sabemos lo que puede hacer Almodóvar) en un nivel más profundo en una manera nueva.

 

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