Biography of Rouben Mamoulian (1898-1987)

Director of North American cinema, born on October 8, 1898 in Tbilisi (Georgia) and died on December 4, 1987 in Los Angeles (California, United States).


Films directed by Rouben Mamoulian show clearly the restless spirit that always characterized him as an individual to mix his educated background intellectual with a great enthusiasm for new technologies, without that is resented for it will connect with the majority public. Many of his popular feature films have become in fact authentic unsurpassed classic adventure film, melodrama and musical, in addition to relating unavoidable when dealing with industrial photography in color or sound aspects.

The careful education received during his adolescence resulted in that crucial sense to configure his personality: a banker father and an enthusiastic mother of Theatre (would indeed preside over the dramatic society of Tbilisi) formed you in the disciplinary rigor and boundless creativity. Therefore, after studying the Bachelor in Paris and studying law at the University of London, it was not strange to leave aside the paternal will see him become judge to enter the prestigious school of dramatic art in Moscow, which had as its main visible head to the mythical Konstantin Stanislavski.

In 1920 he made the leap to England, where he began to direct different assemblies of success which, in turn, would open you the doors of the United States three years later to be hired by the Chairman of Kodak, George EastmanHouse, to direct his theater company in Rochester. His scenic activity between 1923 and 1926, with overwhelming successes even on Broadway (as that provided him with Porgy), drew the attention of Paramount, who was recruiting directors with undoubted skills for dialogue and willing to confront the delicate transition from silent film to sound.

Rouben Mamoulian pointed out soon, since his very debut, a modern filmmaker and little given to appeasing the established order. Thus, although their technical skills were very limited, in applause (1929) sensed that the camera should recover their former mobility (lost during the first years of the sound by technical limitations) using radical dissociation between the sound recording and Imaging. This added you to the mix of two tracks from sounds (for example, music and dialogue), in order to improve the sound quality of the set and achieve amazing effects that would be very well received by the audience.

The city streets (1931), according to the literary work of Dashiell Hammett, end up being for its part an unusual film of gangsters where Mamoulian played with theatrical monologue, something unusual in cinema resource but that was soon accepted as a narrative resource. Launched at the Summit of stardom as director then set up the man and the Monster (1931), where he developed the color filters as element for achieving special effects in black and white photography, case of conversion in a plane fixed Dr. Jekyll in the evil Hyde. The intense emotion and sensuality of your images, as well as the magnificent interpretations of Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins, also contributed mightily to make this film a masterpiece of horror movies.

Love me this night (1932) closed the first part of his career with a new audiovisual experiment: an attempt to synchronize image and sound according to predetermined musical rhythms. However, in 1933, he decided to give a slight respite in his formal experiments to direct Greta Garbo in the Queen Cristina of Sweden and Marlene Dietrich in the song of songs. The two largest of the cinematic firmament divas found in Mamoulian the ideal filmmaker to get a sentimental tragedy of these excellent interpretations, especially in regards to the containment of gestures and certain ambiguous blankness that finds its maximum expression in the flat end of the Queen Cristina of Sweden, with Greta Garbo facing with dignity and without fuss.

(1935) Vanity Fair was also a new challenge, since it was the first experience of Mamoulian with Technicolor. The director became as a result of this experience in one of the most remarkable theoretical about the expressive use of color, and their investigations continued in blood and sand (1941), according to the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. However, since the mid-1930s Theatre returned to claim him as one of their great directors, so Hollywood and Broadway began to alternate in its accomplishments. Two panellists followed getting thunderous hits, but little by little it was preferring theatre. That is why the beautiful Moscow (1957), starring Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire, musical closed masterfully its relationship with cinema: to use stereo sound and color added the use of dance to show progress in the love story of the protagonists. Installed in this privileged position, did not hesitate subsequently or a moment to abandon the subsequent shootings of Porgy and Bess (completed by Otto Preminger;PREMINGER, OTTO in 1959) and the blockbuster Cleopatra (Joseph l. Mankiewicz, 1963), by strong disagreements with the producers.


1929: Aplauso.1931: the streets of the city; The man and the monstruo.1932: I love this noche.1933: the song of songs; The reina Cristina de Suecia.1934: Live from nuevo.1935: the vanidad.1936 fair: the cheerful bandolero.1937: the fury of negro.1939 Gold: dream dorado.1940: the sign of the Zorro.1941: blood and arena.1942: Rings on her Fingers.1947: Summer Holiday.1957: the beautiful of Moscow.


MAMOULIAN, r.: Style is the Man, Washington: James Silke, 1971.

L Fernández Colorado