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Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller

The Skin I Live In

Plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard was successful in cultivating an artificial skin resistant to burns and insect bites, which he calls "GAL", that he says he has been testing on athymic mice. He presents his results in a medical symposium but when he privately discloses he has also conducted illegal transgenic experiments on humans, he is forbidden to continue with his research.

The Skin I Live In

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While Ledgard disposes of Zeca's body, Marilia tells Vera that she (Marilia) is the mother of both Zeca and Ledgard by different men, a fact she has not shared with them. Ledgard was adopted by Marilia's employers, but was ultimately raised by her. Zeca later left to live in the streets and smuggle drugs, while Ledgard went to medical school and married a woman named Gal. When Zeca returned years later, he and Gal ran off together. They were involved in a terrible car crash in which Gal was badly burnt. Zeca had left the scene assuming her to be dead, while Ledgard had taken her from the car (in the present, Zeca had mistaken Vera for Gal, something she did not deny). Thereafter she lived in total darkness without any mirrors. One day, while hearing her daughter Norma singing in the garden, Gal accidentally sees her own reflection in the window; traumatized by the sight, she jumps to her death.

Ledgard tracks down Vicente and while in disguise, knocks Vicente off his motorbike, kidnaps him, and holds him in captivity. Vicente's mother reports his disappearance to the police, but after they find his motorbike at the bottom of a cliff, they tell her he is likely dead and has been swept out to sea. Although she believes her son is still alive, her search for him remains unsolved. Meanwhile, Ledgard subjects him to a vaginoplasty and later instructs him how to slowly stretch his new vagina. Over a period of six years, Ledgard physically transforms Vicente into a replica of his late wife, and renames him Vera. During this period of time, Vicente struggles to keep himself sane and cling to the core of his true identity.

Vicente, a young chap who works with his mother designing clothes, consumes drugs, and lives a carefree life. He also has the hots for his co-worker, Cristina, who is gay. Popping a pill, Vicente heads off to the same party Norma happens to be.

The wealthy, intimidating surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) lives and works in his walled villa outside of town. He has dropped out of the medical community rather than discontinue experiments considered unethical. Aided only by a devoted housekeeper, Marilia (Marisa Paredes), he keeps a strange, beautiful woman named "Vera Cruz" (Elena Anaya) prisoner in an ornate room lined with TV cameras that he monitors on a giant wall screen. Vera wears a contoured body suit made of a surgical webbing-like material, including a partial mask. Robert's forbidden research has developed a fantastic new skin substitute grown genetically from human and pig DNA -- it is so strong that a blowtorch does not harm it. We learn that this new skin has completely replaced Vera's epidermis, piece by piece. What follows is a grotesque tangle of relationships, crimes, tragedies and abominable surgery. Robert has an unstable brother, Zeca (Roberto Álamo), a fugitive who returns wearing a bizarre Carnival costume. Zeca commits a rape, confusing Vera with Robert's deceased wife. Robert also mourns his daughter Norma (Blanca Suárez), who was raped after a party several years before; Robert exacted a terrible vengeance on the boy supposedly responsible, Vicente (Jan Cornet). The storyline becomes a tangle of flashbacks that reveal one horror after another. Through it all Robert Ledgard remains convinced that his actions are justified by his superior knowledge and skills. Several colleagues sometimes join him in performing illegal surgeries at the villa, usually for high-paying customers; one of them tries to blackmail Robert into continuing the practice. But the bizarre events continue until most of the cast is dead.

The Skin I Live In sees the director's fine group of designers coming up with beautiful sets and costumes. Vera Cruz's special leotards make her look like a lab-grown superwoman. With the new skin she's been sewn into, she may indeed be a superwoman, but we never find out. Almodóvar's radical theme, the interchangeability of sexual roles and identities, is made very clear. But this horror film seems a very roundabout way to express it!

Sony's combo package includes a second DVD disc. The extras offered are a promotional behind-the-scenes featurette, a brief video of the New York premiere and a long interview with the director before a live audience, conducted by Anne Thompson.

Ledgard calls his synthetic skin 'Gal' after his first wife. The name Gal is short for Galatea, who in Roman mythology was a statue made by the gifted sculptor Pygmalion. The statue was so perfect that Pygmalion fell in love with his own creation and Venus granted his wish to bring her to life.

Vera's artificial skin is named "Gal" after the late woman severely burned in a car crash. Elena Anaya's role of Dr. Maru in Wonder Woman (2017) makes reference to this role rather than the original comic books, as Maru has burning scars hidden under a mask. Wonder Woman is played by Gal Gadot in that movie.

A Toledo-based plastic surgeon working to devise a revolutionary human skin treatment, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Banderas) lives, like most Almodovar characters, in a house distinguished by richly colored interiors and impeccable furnishings (courtesy of art director Antxon Gomez). His manse, however, has the added bonus of an operating theater and a beautiful woman locked away in an upstairs bedroom.

A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault.

Her captor is famed plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), architect of the kinkiest makeover on record. From the opening onward, aesthetic refinement and uneasiness are poised in delicate balance. We first encounter Anaya performing elegant yoga poses in a skintight leotard whose stitching defines her body like a butcher shop's diagram of flank, brisket and rump.

Dr. Ledgard, cold as a scalpel, lost his wife a decade earlier as she launched a torrid affair that literally ended in flames. After being severely burned in a car accident, she killed herself. He channeled his rage and grief into the quest to create super-resilient synthetic skin grafts. His unwilling guinea pig is chosen for maximum poetic justice.

Synopsis: Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: Vera (Elena Anaya), a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

A journalist for Bloody Disgusting since 2015, Trace writes film reviews and editorials, as well as co-hosts Bloody Disgusting's Horror Queers podcast, which looks at horror films through a queer lens. He has since become dedicated to amplifying queer voices in the horror community, while also injecting his own personal flair into film discourse. Trace lives in Austin, TX with his husband and their two dogs. Find him on Twitter @TracedThurman

Said scientist is brilliant former surgeon-turned-medical researcher Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) who, by day, lectures on skin transplants and works with burn victims, and the rest of the time holes up in his private lab/operating room, secretly attempting to develop very special artificial skin.

There are 50 years between Eyes without a Face and The Skin I Live In. In those 50 years, medicine has progressed drastically, with improvements and experimentations in every field, including plastic surgery. Yet, a few things are still forbidden, like transgenesis. To that boundary, plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) offers the above-quoted debate with his senior colleague, who warns him about further experimentation and forbids him to continue on that path. Little does he know that Ledgard has already successfully completed his experiment with transgenesis, using an artificial skin that can withstand any kind of damage on a young woman named Vera (Elena Anaya), who he keeps in captivity with the help of one of his servants, Marilia (Marisa Paredes) at his secluded estate.

At its center is Antonio Banderas, showing much more command and presence than he ever does in his American movies, as a surgeon who specializes in facial restoration. Early in the film, with an unsettling combination of coldness and conviction, he announces that he has perfected a synthetic skin that will revolutionize the treatment of burn victims. But the skin is not really synthetic - it's a chromosomological amalgam of human and pig skin, an entirely unethical creation.

Banderas' good looks and our knowledge of him as Zorro might easily distract us at the beginning from realizing that he is a mad scientist. But the hints are there in the set decoration of the doctor's mansion: Everywhere are large reproductions of famous paintings from all eras, all with one thing in common: They are nudes showing vast expanses of skin.

Another fat hint, a big fat hint, that the good doctor might be out of his mind is in the fact that he is holding a woman captive in his home. Vera (Elena Anaya) wears a flesh-colored body suit and lives in a locked room, either the beneficiary or the victim of the doctor's skin experiments. One thing we do know, from the doctor's spooky housekeeper (Marisa Paredes): He has given Vera the face of his dead wife. And we see that he observes her on a flat, closed-circuit TV screen that's the size of a wall. The expression on his face is strangely fierce yet helpless. 041b061a72


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