I watched Pain & Glory (Dolor y gloria) by Pedro Almodóvar and found it beautiful, moving, and emotionally satisfying.
It’s semi-autobiographical, filmed in a replica of Almodóvar’s own apartment, and Antonio Banderas – who played the slightly fictionalized Almodóvar – apparently wore the director’s clothes (!).
According to interviews with Almodóvar and Banderas, the fictional parts is mainly the reconciliation that happens in the movie. The director repairs three different relationships – with a former colleague, his mother, and a former lover. A fourth – with his childhood reading student – is left unfinished, perhaps something to explore in the future.
Unable to mend these relationships in his outer life, he did it – in a beautiful way – in his inner life and through his art. And we can do that too.
I have gone back to my childhood in my imagination and replayed situations with some changes. I imagine myself and the other people – who I felt hurt by at the time – as the most sane, wise, kind, and humane versions of ourselves, replay the scenes and how they would be different, and dialog with them and ask why they acted the way they did (and imagine their answers).
Imagining them – and me – as whole is fictional in one sense, but real in another since we all have the capacity to live from the most mature, wise, and kind versions of ourselves. And when I feel hurt, it usually comes from a combination of the actions of others (often coming from their hurt and reactive parts) and the hurt and reactive parts of me interpreting what happened.
There are many other ways to do this. For instance any form of parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems) or a form of inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries).
Some may say that it’s not really mended if it’s just in our imagination. It’s true that the reconciliation may be deeper and more embodied when it happens in real life with the people involved. And yet, it’s real enough even if it happens “just” in our imagination. It’s real for us. It’s real for our mind and our system. It’s real for us to the extent it’s wholehearted, genuine, sincere, visceral, and lived.
And doing it within ourselves can be a good stepping-stone for doing it in life, when and if that’s possible.
Note: What Almodóvar did in Pain & Glory is similar to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychomagic acts. Creating this film – where he mends three important relationships in his life – is a psychomagic act.
- Pain and Glory, and completing something unfinished
- mending three different relationships – former colleague, mother, former lover
- not in life but through his imagination, his art
- we can do that as well
- e.g. go back in imagination