Sound and Auteurship – the Seductive Sound Design of Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodovar
Pedro Almodóvar – Credit: Pedro J Pacheco, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week Sight and Sound Magazine announced their upcoming feature ALL ABOUT ALMODÓVAR, which will take a dive into the life and works of Pedro Almodóvar. We took the opportunity to explore the sound design in Almodóvar’s work.

Paying attention to sound design can tell you a lot about a director’s filmography; how they flesh out their worlds, what sounds they tend to focus on, and recurring auditory themes that pop up time and time again.

Almodóvar has a stylistic vision when it comes to sound design. We know that sound plays an incredibly important role in his films. In an interview with IndieWire he describes his partnership with Composer Alberto Iglesias: “it’s not uncommon to spend more time working on the music of a film than shooting the footage itself”. An admission that possibly wouldn’t be expected from other auteurs.

Scratch the glossy, colourful veneer of a Pedro Almodóvar film and you’ll always find a political standpoint

Maria Delgado

Almodóvar is the featured cover artist in March’s Sight and Sound Magazine. Its brightly coloured cover reflects the visual palette of any Almodóvar film. But as Maria Delgado writes, “scratch the glossy, colourful veneer of a Pedro Almodóvar film and you’ll always find a political standpoint”. The raw and dramatic themes that underlie many of Almodóvar’s films can often be heard before they are seen.

Almodóvar’s latest film, Parallel Mothers, is no exception to this rule. The film is a return to his signature theme of the maternal, and his colourful, bold, twisty melodrama style cuts through. Parallel Mothers has strong themes underpinning it which are carried through by the somewhat characteristically stark sound design.

Rather than try to describe this, Little White Lies have (rather conveniently!) put together a montage that encourages us to hear Almodóvar…

Little White Lies explores how Spanish maestro Pedro Almodovar uses sound in his films, from Volver to Pain And Glory

Sound undoubtedly plays a strong role in Almodóvar’s creations. The result is a filmography populated with tactility, gentleness, and small moments of unobserved beauty.

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