While some of my friends watched (and were delighted by) the latest movie of Almodovar the cinematheque in my village screened his second movie, made almost 30 years ago – ‘Labyrinth of Passion‘. A couple of months ago I had seen ‘Do You Remember Dolly Bell?’ (made one year earlier than the film of the Spaniard) the first film of Kusturica, now this one, and beyond the similarities of the game of identifying in early works the spark of genius of the later great movies there is also an abyssal difference between the two. While Kustirica’s movie show the restrains of the censorship his work was subjected to in the still-Communist Yugoslavia, Almodovar’s film shouts FREEDOM.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084228/

 

Indeed, Laberinto de pasiones is a film that could have been only in 1982 and in Spain. The young director seems to be drunken by the light and colors of a world that just woke up after several decades of dictatorship. His characters live in a Madrid that has become the heaven of all kinds of experiments – in music, in love, in the way people live. There is absolutely nothing that reminds the films of Carlos Saura or Bunuel, the film is made by a young director whose career started with the liberation of Spain, and who celebrates his freedom in making movies and experiments with characters and a social medium on the fringe.

 

(video source kevinwasi)

 

Did I already say that watching this film is fun? Just saying that one of the characters is the son of the Shah of (T)Iran who happens to be gay but then is ‘cured’ by a nymphomaniac named Sexilia – you already got a feeling of the material Almodovar plays with. He also crosses the line to play a gay punk singer in travesty (see above) in one of the several delicacies of the film. Sure, there is a lot of trash around, and not all of it is that original, but then you have Banderas playing a gay terrorist who falls for his target before knowing whom he gets in bed with. All the story is told with a kind of detachment that makes you feel the protective smile of the director when looking at his characters and actors.

 

(video source ea285)

 

No, this film is not a masterpiece, and if I had seen it by or close to the time it was made I am not sure whether I would have liked it, or identified the huge director Almodovar will become starting a few films later. If there is anything close in genre it is rather the low cost comedies that by that time I would have seen in Romania (later the boorekas movies in Israel). There is however in this film enough craziness and bluntness to break away from the crowd, and a hidden tear behind the laughs that I am pretty sure that could not have escaped me completely.