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Law of Desire - A Queer Film Classic

Law of Desire

A Queer Film Classic

By José Nuiroga
Series edited by Thomas Waugh, & Matthew Hays
Categories: Film & Media, LGBTQ+, Gay Literature
Series: Queer Film Classics
Paperback : 9781551522623, 160 pages, 2009


Law of Desire, one of three inaugural titles in Arsenal's film book series Queer FilmClassics, focuses on the 1987 homoerotic melodrama by Pedro Almod, Spain's most successful contemporary film director.
The film Law of Desire is a grand tale of love, lust, and amnesia featuring three main characters: a gay film director (played by EusebioPoncela); his sister, an actress who was oncehis brother (Carmen Maura); and a repressed,obsessive stalker (a young Antonio Banderas).In the twenty-plus years since its first release,Law of Desire has been acknowledged as redefining the way in which cinema can portray thedifficult affective relationships between homosexuality, gender, and sex. Taking his cue from the golden age of Latin American, American,and European melodrama, Almod createda sentimental yet hard-edged film that believesin the utopian possibilities for new relationshipsthat redeem people from their despair. Since itsrelease, Almod has become an Oscar-winningfilmmaker who regularly delves into issuesof sexuality, gender, and identity.
This book examines the political and social contextin which Almod created Law of Desire,as well as its impact on LGBT cinema both inEurope and around the world.


Arsenal Pulp Press launched its Queer Film Classics series last fall, and may we say? It's about time. While the film world has produced critical analyses of movies by and about LGBTQ people and subjects, an attempt to assemble works on the most influential of those movies has not been attempted. It's rare and exciting to see a series like this come to fruition... Quiroga takes the long view on Almod's career, examining how his early work fed into his Oscar-winning and internationally renown pictures of the late 1990s without losing its unique queer perspective and nuanced takes on gay relationships, something that only the Spanish "movida" movement could have made possible to show onscreen.
-EDGE Publications

- EDGE Publications

[Quiroga] views the narrative within larger social, sexual, and cultural contexts, and his supporting analyses of specific scenes, cinematic elements, and dialog reflect his extensive research, as do his references to other works by director Pedro Almodovar.
-Library Journal

- Library Journal

The film's twists and turns, the director's bold color scheme, and the layers of meaning to be found in the film are meticulously detailed by Quiroga.
-EDGE Publications (Boston, Chicago, etc.)

- EDGE Publications

Quiroga brilliantly contextualizes the significance of the film's individual scenes as well as its idiosyncratic themes and motifs, while linking all to Almod's oeuvre generally, treating the 1987 film as a particularly pivotal text in not only Almod's career but also in post-Franco Spanish culture.

- Cineaste