Pedro Almodovar talks about Pina Bausch's influence on his films

"In Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) there was a poster of Pina in Café Müller (it was hanging on a wall in Cecilia Roth's son's room). I didn't know then that that choreographic piece would be the prologue to my next film. At the time I only wanted to pay homage to the German choreographer.

When I finished writing Talk To Her and looked at Pina's face again, with her eyes closed, and at how she was dressed in a flimsy slip, her arms and hands outstretched, surrounded by obstacles (wooden tables and chairs), I had no doubt that it was the image which best represented the limbo in which my story's protagonists lived. Two women in a coma who, despite their apparent passivity, provoke the same solace, the same tension, passion, jealousy, desire and disillusion in men as if they were upright, eyes wide open and talking a mile a minute.

Around that time, I saw Masurca Fogo in Barcelona and was struck by its vitality and optimism, its bucolic air and those unexpected images of painful beauty which made me cry, like Marco, from pure pleasure. Not to mention the "sighing beginning", which I had to reduce for narrative reasons. I'm referring to the beginning of the piece: A woman (Ruth Amarante) appears on a diaphanous stage, her hair is hanging loose and she's wearing an ankle length flowered dress. She picks up a 70s style microphone and holds it up to her mouth. It looks as if she's going to sing or talk, but she doesn't do either. After filling her lungs with air in a suspense-filled silence, she lets out a long, deep sigh. This is followed by another sigh... and another.

Masurca Fogo begins with the sadness of the absent Benigno (the sighs) and unites the surviving couple (Marco and Alicia) through a shared bucolic emotion: several couples are dancing in the country to the rhythm of a Cabo Verde mazurca, also accompanied by the sound of a little waterfall which flows miraculously from the grass in all its splendor.

If I had asked for it specifically I couldn't have got anything better. Pina Bausch had unknowingly created the best doors through which to enter and leave Talk To Her".

From the 2005 programme for Nelken & Palermo Palermo.

Pina Bausch
Café Müller (1978)


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