Almodovar's Spain: Cinema and Society (MLS3066)

StaffDr Guillem Colom-Montero -
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

You will gain a detailed understanding of the work of Spain’s foremost artist since the coming of democracy. You will engage with key questions in Film Studies, including cinephilia, ‘National’ and ‘Transnational’ Cinemas. You will explore the genres of comedy and melodrama, and analyse the use of film form, such as mise en scène (including casting), sound, editing and cinematography. You will be able to analyse shifting and intertwined historical and theoretical contexts. You will study films that range from the heady days of the Spanish Transition to democracy, to contemporary films that address the challenges faced by the contemporary nation. You will consider production contexts to arrive at an understanding of how a films gets made (its financing, distribution and exhibition as well as the ways the director and creative teams were trained). You will explore the cultural theory that surrounds the richly suggestive questions that arise when considering Almodóvar’s work.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the chosen films and an understanding of their significance in the broader historical and cultural contexts in which they were produced.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 2. After initial input from the course tutor, apply and evaluate critical approaches to the material under analysis independently.
  • 3. Argue at length and in detail about an aspect of a selected topic, supporting the argument with evidence from the film(s) and with opinions from secondary literature.
  • 4. Use a range of film-critical terminology, applying it to independently researched material as well as to material introduced by the course tutor.
  • 5. Access and use critically printed and, where appropriate, electronic learning resources identified as useful by the course tutor; find independently and evaluate critically other relevant resources.
  • 6. Analyse films from a variety of genres and styles, showing an awareness of their relation to the historical and cultural context in which they were produced, and present the results orally and in writing.
  • 7. Demonstrate advanced skills of visual literacy, e.g. an understanding of the role of film genre and an ability to distinguish and evaluate techniques of mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing and sound editing.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Negotiate individual assessment tasks and/or topics with course tutor, identifying own areas of strength and interest.
  • 9. Using bibliographical material provided, select, plan and carry out a programme of study leading to an essay / presentation on a chosen topic, to a specified length and deadline.
  • 10. Undertake independent research tasks on the basis of a taught course.
  • 11. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of a large body of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument of some complexity.

Syllabus plan

This takes four  key examples from Almodóvar’s body of work, and innovatively reads each film against a contrasting example from world cinema and from Spanish cinema history. We will pay particular attention to genre, film form, historical contexts and cultural theory.

Introduction. I: Historical contexts: the Franco dictatorship; the Transition; democracy. II: Film Studies questions: ‘national cinema’; ‘transnational cinema’, ‘cinephilia’, ‘auteur studies’.

Our four key films and their comparator films may vary depending on availability, but might typically include four of these ‘sets’:

¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?! (What have I Done to Deserve This!? 1984) and El mundo sigue (Life Goes On Fernán Gómez 1963) and Bicycle Thieves (De Sica 1948)

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 1988) and Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces Almodóvar 2009) and How to Marry a Millionaire (Negulesco 1953)

Volver (2006) and El sur (The South Erice 1983) and Two Women (De Sica 1960)

Julieta (2016) and La tía Tula (Aunt Tula Picazo 1964) and The Hours (Daldry 2002)


Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities5Lectures. Lectures will be used to provide a framework within which key ideas, events and selected films will be studied and to outline the mean themes and techniques employed by directors.
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities8Seminars. Seminars will give students the opportunity to explore the points raised in the lectures and develop their own ideas about them through group presentations and close textual analysis. Group presentations will be based on specific topics and tasks, the latter ranging from analyses of critical material to interpretations of selected scenes from the films. These will be followed by question and answer sessions leading to discussions in which all students will be expected to participate.
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities8Screenings. 4 Film screenings
Guided independent study128Private study. This is the majority of a students' time. It will be spent in private viewing of the films; reading; planning and writing essays and revising, where relevant. Students will also be assigned a Study Group with which they will prepare a presentation for one of the films studied on the module.
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1Conclusion. End-of-session conclusion hour

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan750AllWritten comments from convenor; meeting with convenor.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
3000-word Essay1001 x 3000 wordsAllEssay feedback sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
3000-word Essay1 x 3000 wordsAllRef/Def Period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

General reading:

Bentley, Bernard,  A Companion to Spanish Cinema, Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2008

Delgado, Maria and Robin Fiddian (eds) Spanish Cinema 1973 - 2010: Auteurism, Politics, Landscape and Memory, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013

Dennison, Stephanie (ed), Contemporary Hispanic Cinema: Interrogating the Transnational in Spanish and Latin American Film, Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2013

Faulkner, Sally, A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013

Jordan, Barry, and Mark Allinson, Spanish Cinema: A Student's Guide,  London: Hodder Arnold, 2005

Labanyi, Jo and Tatjana Pavlovi? (eds), A Companion to Spanish Cinema, Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

Pavlovi?, Tatjana and others, 2009, 100 Years of Spanish Cinema, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009 

Triana-Toribio, Núria, Spanish National Cinema, London: Routledge, 2003

Wright, Sarah, The Child in Spanish Cinema, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Pedro almodovar; Spanish cinema; cinephilia