Spanish director Luis Garcia Berlanga played a key role in bringing international attention to his country's cinema with the release of Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall (1952). The award-winning film featured a screenplay written by Berlanga and his former classmate from the Spanish Institute of Cinema (class of 1949), Juan Bardem, who went on to become one of Spain's most important directors. Born into a wealthy family, Berlanga was 18 when he was forced into the military to fight Russians alongside German soldiers with Spain's Blue Division. Had he refused to enlist, Berlanga's father, imprisoned Republican politician José Garcia Berlanga Pardo, would have been executed. Upon his discharge from the military, Berlanga studied philosophy in Valencia and later enrolled in film school. After graduation, he and Juan Bardem founded their own production company, Altamira. The two co-wrote and co-directed Esa Pareja Feliz (1951). A comedy in the popular neorealist manner, the film was panned and bankrupted Altamira. Berlanga and Bardem's more successful sophomore effort was produced through the Communist-run Union Industrial Cinematografica company, which Berlanga helped establish in 1949. By the mid-'50s, Berlanga's increasingly iconoclastic efforts placed him in disfavor with the Franco regime and his films were often censored. Still, Berlanga continued making quality films such as Placido (1961), for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Berlanga's most famous film, El Verdugo/The Executioner (1963), a black comedy about a reluctant executioner and his bride, was considered too political by censors and was heavily cut. His 1973 film Grandeur Nature/Life Size, a French-Spanish-Italian co-production, was banned in Spain until 1978. Life improved considerably for Berlanga after Franco's death. To celebrate, he created his popular "Nacional" trilogy (1978-1982), in which he satirized modern Spanish life; during this time, Berlanga also helmed the Filmoteca Española. In 1985, Berlanga took on the Spanish Civil War, offering a no-holds-barred look at what really occurred in La Vaquilla/The Cow. In the mid-'80s, Berlanga began editing a series of sexy novels. In 1994, after a seven-year absence from feature films, Berlanga returned with Todos a la Carcel.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Nació en el seno de una familia burguesa. Su abuelo había sido gobernador civil de Valencia y su padre fue diputado por la Unión Republicana durante la Segunda República. Estudiando Derecho, tuvo que abandonar la Universidad y enrolarse en la División Azul para que las autoridades tratasen con benevolencia a su padre, que había sido ingresado en prisión, y condenado a muerte, por cuestiones políticas. Renovó, junto a Antonio Bardem, el cine español. Dirigió una de las películas míticas del cine español de todos los tiempos, Bienvenido, Mister Marshall, de 1952. Despuntó en su habilidad para burlar la censura durante la época franquista. Ha recibido premios en los más importantes festivales, Cannes, Venecia, Montreal y Berlín. Fue nominado al Oscar en 1961. En el festival de Karlovy Vary fue elegido como uno de los diez cineastas más relevantes del mundo. Su hijo, Carlos Berlanga, compositor y músico, fue uno de los precursores de la corriente cultural conocida como La Movida madrileña, en los 80. El universo berlanguiano se completa con cintas como Novio a la vista (1954), Plácido (1961), La escopeta nacional (1978), La vaquilla (1985) o París-Tombuctú (1999), entre otros.