The director, the artist – and the unframed, unmounted work of art

The director, the artist – and the unframed, unmounted work of art

Broken Embraces, which premieres in Britain this week, draws heavily on the dramatic landscapes of Lanzarote. Annie Bennett meets director Pedro Almodóvar and follows in his footsteps around the island

In Broken Embraces, the two main characters, Lena and Mateo, played by Penélope Cruz and Lluís Homar, stand on the same spot. He takes a photograph and Lena embraces him from behind, sheltering from the wind. I went to Lanzarote and stood there too.

Striated cliffs in shades of burgundy, russet and ochre frame a beach where wild waves crash on to the shore, with what looks like a slick of green paint splashed across the charcoal sand. It is the most extraordinary sight, and it is hardly surprising that Almodóvar didn’t notice the couple.

“It was like in Antonioni’s movie Blow Up, when David Hemmings takes the picture in the park and doesn’t see the body by the bushes until he develops the film in his darkroom,” said the director when I met him later in Madrid. “The camera lens sees more than the naked eye.”

Pedro-Almod-var-talks-abo-001

César Manrique, the visionary artist, architect and environmentalist whose influence is seen all over the island, spent his childhood holidays in Famara and always said it was his favourite place. Born in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, in 1919, he lived in Madrid and New York before returning to the island in 1966. Passionate about his homeland, he campaigned for the introduction of regulations that saved Lanzarote from the ravages of rampant development. Highrise buildings are prohibited and there are no roadside advertising hoardings.

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