Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Journal Title

Pasavento: Revista de Estudios Hispánicos

Publication Date



This article considers the creative and transformative process undergone by the main protagonist –a transsexual- of La piel que habito (2011) while comparing it to the age-old alchemical process, as the two share a common objective: the perfection, imitation, and adulteration –or falsification- of nature. The main purpose of this essay, aside from delineating the alchemical motifs present throughout the film, is to explore the (con)fusion of a particular set of binaries, such as the authentic and the artificial, the masculine and the feminine, and the Self and the Other. The author maintains that, as with alchemy, Almodóvar presents the figure of the transsexual, or of the hermaphrodite, as the perfect being, or the Philosopher’s Stone, as s/he embodies both the feminine and the masculine in one body. Moreover, like alchemical gold and works of art, this study proposes that the protagonist, Vicente/Vera, represents a more perfect copy of the original, which underscores his/her ambivalent existential authenticity. The author highlights the similarities between Vicente/Vera’s physical and ontological transmutation and the mise-en-scène in which he/she must embark in order to survive. Finally, the essay concludes that the transformative, illusory nature of the theatrical parallels the experimental and deceiving aspect of alchemy.


The definitive article is available at:

English translation of the article title: The deception of the skin: the alchemical transmutation of the transsexual subject in "The skin that I inhabit"

Publisher Statement

This article was published under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

This journal is published by: Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, Spain.