Biography of Luis García Berlanga (1921-2010)

Luis García Berlanga.

Director of Spanish Cinema born in Valencia on June 12, 1921 and died in Madrid on November 13, 2010.

In 1928, the small Luis García Berlanga Martí began his studies at the Colegio de San José, run by the Jesuits in Valencia. A year later, his family decided to send Luis and his brother Fernando, victims of a lung ailment, the colegio-sanatorio of Beausoleil, located in the Swiss Alps. In 1930 he was again in the Jesuit Center of Valencia, where resumed his training until 1931, date in which the aforementioned religious order was expelled from Spain.

In 1936, when he was studying at the Academy Cabanilles, came the Civil War. Although initially Berlanga took advantage of widespread confusion to go with multiple pleasures, he was finally forced to fight at the 40th Division of police. At the end of the war, his father, former member of the Popular Front, was sentenced to death by the Pro-Franco side. This situation was in good measure inconsistent with the first political sympathies of Berlanga, approaching to falangism.

With the idea of improving the prison situation of his father, the young enlisted on July 14, 1941, in the Blue Division. The stage that happened in Russia, fighting in front of Novgorod, was one of the darkest in his life. After multiple penalties, he returned to Spain in 1942, year completed high school studies and began military service. Towards 1943 began to feel a marked inclination for poetry and the cinema. Although he was enrolled in the career of philosophy and letters, not he went to class. Taking advantage of the free time, he wrote the screenplay titled Dog Crate and published his first film reviews.

Definitely dump in the cinema, in 1947 he joined the Research Institute and cinematic experiences (IIEC). The short film that shot during the second course titled walk by an old war and completed with the collaboration of Agustín Navarro and Juan Antonio Bardem, Florentino Soria. Already graduated, in 1951 he directed together with Bardem feature Esa pareja feliz, starred by Fernando Fernán-Gómez and Elvira Quintillá.

After their expulsion from the Phalanx, the young filmmaker was taking a position individualist, anarchist, away from political erroneus and, in a way, libertine. However, his openness and conciliatory avoided you issues of importance in the post-war society. Unfortunately, also in this field, lived a family tragedy: in 1952, the father of Berlanga came out of jail, but because of the hardships suffered, died six months later.

His collaboration with Bardem was extended in welcome, Mister Marshall! (1952), whose screenplay wrote together. The film, mythical title of Spanish cinema, had a good reception at the Cannes Film Festival and also attended the Venice Film Festival, where the President of the jury, Edward G. Robinson, expressed his outrage by what he interpreted as anti-Americanism in the film.

Poster of the film welcome Mr. Marshall!

The conceptual and political audacity of welcome, Mister Marshall! It had its continuation in later works by the filmmaker, where its acidic social critique was nuanced by local customs and some black humor rooted in the comic the avant-garde literature, represented by writers such as Edgar Neville, Antonio de Lara "tono" and José López Rubio, Enrique Jardiel Poncela. Logically, this type of approach was not well supported by the prevailing censorship. In fact, another film of Berlanga, Thursdays, milagro (1957) was altered by censors and took several years to be released.

From the formal point of view, Berlanga developed a sober and simple mounting, haunt much the drawing sequence. Telling their stories through an ensemble cast, this narrative resource approximated its cinema theatre formula, with frequent inputs and outputs of the characters in the frame. In 1955, the filmmaker took part in the Salamanca conversations, a meeting where they discussed the future of Spanish cinema. A year later, it rolled Calabuch, and in 1958 it began to teach film at the IIEC.

The production of sold a tram (1959) was his first professional encounter with the writer and screenwriter Rafael Azcona, responsible for the most important arguments of cinematography of Berlanga. The next film they collaborated, Plácido (1961), outdoors in a small provincial town and showed the contradictions of charity campaigns, empty of content against the most pressing for much of the population lacks. Placido was nominated for the Oscar for the best film from non-English speaking in 1963. That same year, Berlanga shot one of his best films, the executioner. Her ferocious portrayal of Spanish society did not like the Francoist authorities, and although the film arrived to present successfully at the Venice Festival, Hispanic administration officials showed their total disagreement with the film.

In 1973 the director travelled to Paris, in order to organize the shooting of life-size, another controversial feature film, this time centered on fetishistic passion of a man who falls in love with a doll. Great amateur eroticism and its varied artistic aspects, Berlanga took this film to disclose this secret passion. A few years later, at the stage of the democratic transition, Berlanga directed the trilogy consisting of the national shotgun (1977), Patrimonio nacional (1980) and Nacional III (1982), where were revealed during the setup of the gentry to abandon their old privileges and adjust to new political ways. In this same line, remembering the past, premiered La vaquilla (1985), set in the Civil war and whose script had not been able to roll previously by problems with censorship.

Filming of national III, Luis g ª Berlanga.

The quality of its cinematography and the personal independence of the director favoured their public recognition in the years that followed the end of the dictatorship. In 1978 he was appointed Chairman of the national film library; in 1980 he won the national prize for cinematography, in 1982 he received the Gold Medal of fine arts; in 1986 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Arts Award; in 1988 he was elected member of the Royal Academy of fine arts of San Fernando, and in 1997 was invested doctor honoris causa from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Also, he was elected President of the Association of graduates in cinematography (ATC) and was the first President of the Academy of Arts and cinematographic Sciences of Spain. In this line of prestige, was also awarded Goya at the Goya for best film and best director for his comedy Todos a la Cárcel!. In 2002, the Association of film directors gave her honorary award.


As director:

Short films

1948: Walk around an ancient war (Co-Director); Three songs. 1949: The circus.

Feature films

1951: That happy couple (Co-Director). 1952: welcome, Mr. Marshall! 1953: Boyfriend in sight. 1956: Calabuch. 1957: Miracle Thursday. 1958: Placido. 1962: Death and the lumberjack (episode of the four truths). 1963: the executioner. 1967: La boutique. 1969: long live the bride and groom! 1973: Natural size. 1977: The national shotgun. 1980: National heritage. 1982: Nacional III. 1985: La vaquilla. 1987: Moors and Christians. 1993: Todos a la Cárcel! 1999: Paris-Timbuktu.

Works for television:

1957: Sold a tram. 1996: Blasco Ibáñez: the novel of his life.

As a script writer:

1950: Fence of anger. 1978: An embarrassing night. 1979: To mia cara mamma.

As screenwriter:

1953: Blood and lights. 1955: Provisional family.

As an actor:

1967: Days of old color. 1968: Tuset Street. 1971: Sharon dressed in red (short). 1979: erotic short stories. 1982: Black money.


AA.VV.: The poetics of Berlanga. Madrid: Editorial Tarvos, 2000.

Alvarez, Joan: Almost imaginary life of Berlanga. Barcelona: Editorial Prensa Ibérica, 1996.

CAÑEQUE, Carlos and GRAU, Maite: welcome, Mr. Berlanga! Barcelona: Destination, 1993.

GALAN, Diego: Ten words about Berlanga. Teruel: Instituto de Estudios Teruel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1990.

GÓMEZ RUFO, Antonio: Berlanga. Confidences of a filmmaker. Madrid: JC, 2000.

GÓMEZ RUFO, Antonio: Berlanga. Against the power and the glory. Barcelona: Ediciones Temas de Hoy, 1990.

Hernandez them, Juan and HIDALGO, Manuel: the last Austro-Hungarian. Conversations with Berlanga. Madrid: Anagrama, 1981.

MUÑOZ PUELLES, Vicente: Erotic hell. The Berlanga collection. Barcelona: Mask, 1995.

PËREZ PERUCHA, July: Around Luis García Berlanga. Valencia: Valencia City Council, 1980.