Troubling transformations: Pedro Almodóvar’s La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In (2011) and its reception

Darren Waldron, Ros Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By analysing audience responses to a Spanish film among French-speaking viewers uploaded on websites and forums, this article examines what happens when adaptation crosses national and cultural boundaries, with specific attention to representations of transgender and gender issues. The case study is La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In (2011) by Pedro Almodóvar. We compare the adaptation to its French source Mygale (Thierry Jonquet, 1984) and consider its use of Les Yeux sans visage/Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960), and reveal that the originally polemical subject matter in the novel is rendered even more controversial by the film. The audience responses are used to gauge whether such issues ‘matter’ for the film’s Francophone viewers and their implications for Almodóvar’s image among his admirers. We argue that a distinction emerges between the actual portrayal of transgender and gender characters in Almodóvar’s films and their reception, both among critics and audiences, for whom the filmmaker continues to be seen as a champion of LGBTQ identities and experience. The ‘Almodóvar label’, we suggest, shapes the reception of his films to the extent that recognition of his representations of transgender and female subjectivity as polemical is only found among a minority of viewers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages14
JournalTransnational Cinemas
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2014


  • Almodóvar; audience; LGBTQ; transgender; Spain; France


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