5 Tragedy is Comedy 93
93 Chapter Five: Tragedy is Comedy One of the dominant themes in the films of Pedro Almodóvar may be said to be the chaos of modern life. The everyday rush, the unplanned event, the arguments, accidents, unscheduled meetings all form and inform the backdrop against which Almodovarian characters struggle to survive. Even when the predominant flavour is one of comedy, there is an element of tragedy which resonates with the viewer. Paradoxically, the reverse is also true: that when there is a dominance of tragedy, there is just enough comedy to create a balance of credibility. However, that is not to say that everything in an Almodóvar film is credible. More often than not, the chaotic lives of the characters are laden with coincidences that stretch the limits of verisimilitude. In fact, it is the sheer mass of coincidences, coming quickly one after the other, that causes a viewer to be unable to comprehend any of Almodóvar’s characters without reference to the postmodern chaos that ensues and that impels the various plots. Thus, chaos and coincidence may be seen as structural devices that drive the plots forward while also being recognizably characteristic of everyday life. Events that facilitate or impede life (chance meetings, delays, accidents, repetitions of previous events) form the basis of dramatic tension, solve or create problems, divert attention from, or attract focus on to, the actions and reactions of the characters. As devices of rhetoric, they form a persuasive axis around which a viewer’s...
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