dashing former matador named Diego Montes (Nacho Martínez),
prematurely retired after a career-ending injury, rehearses the principal
tenets of the art of the kill at
a converted classroom on his estate to a group
of aspiring bullfighters, including an
student named Angel
Giménez (Antonio Banderas).
The training lecture then cuts to the image of a beautiful, enigmatic
woman sitting on a
park bench, María (Assumpta Serna) as she initiates contact
with an anonymous man innocuously passing by, follows him back to
and, at the
physical intimacy, stabs him with a long ornamental pin behind the
nape of the neck - in the region between the shoulder
blades defined in bullfighting as the cleft of the clods.
The shot then cuts back to the training grounds as Angel, intrigued
undoubtedly, attracted to) his instructor, follows
Diego back to the house for a drink of water, and soon grows anxious
when the conversation exposes his inexperience with women. In retaliation,
Angel attempts to prove his masculinity by stalking
Diego's lover - a young model named Eva (Eva Cobo) - in an impulsive
act that culminates in an equally humiliating failed sexual assault.
However, unable to be taken seriously by the police, Angel decides
to confess to a series of murders after viewing the crime scene photographs
on the commissioner's (Eusebio Poncela) desk, and in the process,
unwittingly unites the paths of the crippled, morbidly aroused Diego
and the fatally seductive María.
Pedro Almodóvar creates a highly sensual, deliriously
overripe, and stylistically audacious
of love, death, fate, and violence in
From the opening shot of the iconic matador, Diego, deriving sexual gratification
horror exploitation film, Almodóvar
interrelation between sexuality and savagery: the parallel cutting
the bullfighting training with María's precise and ritualistic murder;
Angel's validation of his masculinity through Eva's attempted violation;
initial pursuit of María inside a movie theater as the tragic, final sequence
Duel in the Sun unfolds;
Diego's repeated playback of the his fateful goring, spotting María
on video among
the spectators. Almodóvar further uses environmental
elements to underscore emotional state, from the idyllic clouds that precipitate
to the portentous inclement weather that punctuates his encounter
total eclipse that materializes during the final encounter. By articulating profound
connection through instinctual aggression, Matador serves
as a bold and provocative allegory for the self-destructive
cultural legacy of machismo, bravura, and ritualistic violence.
© Acquarello 2003. All rights reserved.