Luis García Berlanga in ‘Essentials’: The shocking journey through cinema and Berlanga’s life

There is a program in La 2 that is blessed glory. And no, I don’t mean Sunday Mass. It is ‘Essential’, a space that is dedicated to reviewing the life and work of the most prominent figures of 20th century Spanish culture. Luis García Berlanga has been the last protagonist. Taking advantage of the celebration of the centenary of his birth, the filmmaker was the center of a documentary in which the audience discovered, for example, that as a child he had the vocation to be invisible. “When one becomes an adult that transforms into a more humble desire to be anonymous and go unnoticed,” explained the genius in an interview. And, according to his son, José Luis García Berlanga, «my father was very versatile, but above all he was very shy. And that’s why he talked so much because if there was silence he believed it was his fault, “he explained.

The author of films like ‘Welcome, Mr. Marshall’ or ‘The Executioner’ confessed that he had a lot in common with the characters in his works. “I usually fall in love with almost everyone because I am like them: a loser, an antihero,” he asserted.. If something characterized his work, it was his now famous sequence shots. “By making them I trust in chance and luck and so far, I have been very good at it,” he argued. And he shared that way of shooting with the interpreters. “I don’t direct the actor, I think he vaguely knows what that is about and I leave him that spontaneity of creation,” he valued. Antonio Resines contributed his two cents to clarify this way of working: “Apparently everything was chaotic, but in reality everything was perfectly measured”.

Berlanga's grandchildren find the script for 'Long live Russia!'  in the Box of Letters

The censorship shook Berlanga in each of his proposals. “They gave me fits of laughter when the censorship notice arrived with which they had destroyed a movie”, guaranteed. And it is that some ‘cuts’ were of laughter. «The script for ‘The four truths’ began with a note that said: General view of Madrid’s Gran Vía. One of the censors stopped in his tracks and said: A general view of the Gran Vía with any other director has no problem, but with Berlanga… Who tells us that he doesn’t have four bishops leaving the Pasapoga cabaret? The bad thing was that the observation was not told to the director until twelve years later, “because if not, I will,” he concluded.

“Berlanga is not a communist, he is much worse: he is a bad Spaniard”. The sentence is attributed to Franco and the filmmaker split when remembering it. The author of pearls like ‘Plácido’ or ‘La heifer’ loved solitude and admitted that he had no method when writing his stories. “Each film has emerged in a different way,” he said. Of course, in all of them the word Austro-Hungarian appears. «In my second feature I realized that it had appeared in a normal context and, because it had worked so well, I made it my fetish word », recounted. Hence, sometimes even shoehorn into the final dubbing, the term has accompanied it and has become one of the hallmarks of the teacher.

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