The Más Madera cinema-club cultural association pays tribute to Luis García Berlanga on Thursday 21 at the Casa de la Cultura. The event will open with a talk by the film critic Santiago Losada about the figure of Berlanga and its cinema, and afterwards there will be a screening of Calabuch, a film that tells how in the middle of the Cold War, Professor Hamilton, a naive sage who believed in the benefits of nuclear energy, realizing his mistake, flees and takes all its secrets with him. He finds refuge in Calabuch, a Mediterranean town that he finds wonderful because the people limit themselves to living and retain a sense of humor and friendship.
The Valencian director knew how to face Franco’s censorship and bring criticisms of the war to the big screen, as well as social denunciations that reflected the harsh realities of the history of our country. What perhaps some do not know is that his life would give for several films. Knowing that there will be many who in the commemoration of the centenary of his birth will review his filmography and achievements, from Ole Benalmádena we get our side naughty and we prefer to tell you some of the anecdotes and curiosities about this great of cinema, some as unexpected as his scripts.
The last gag by Luis García Berlangawas kept in theCervantes Institute’s Caja de las Letras. And it is that, the Valencian left saved the unpublished script ofViva Rusia, the film that would come to complete the saga formed by La escopeta nacional, Patrimonio Nacional and Nacional III. Specifically, the filmmaker deposited the document in 2008, in box 1034 along with a copy of his memoirs Berlanga, contra el poder y la gloria of Antonio Gómez Rufo, and a copy of the magazine L’àvant-scéne dedicated to his movieEl Verdugo.
Although there were several memories about him, such as the one he left himself in the Caja de las Letras, as a curiosity it should be noted that it was not until this year, on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of his birth, until has written his biography. Is about Vida y cine de un creador irreverente (Tusquets, 2021) of Miguel Ángel Villena, awarded with XXXIII Premio Comillas 2021.
Another oddity around the filmmakeris that since last year it can be found in the RAEthe adjective Berlanguiano, or that in all his films – except the first one, Esa pareja Feliz, in which Fernando Fernán Gómez and Elvira Quintillá did not need to mention the Central European empire because they had enough with electronics – as a signature you can hear in different contexts and sometimes without coming to mind, the word astrohúngaro. For some, this fetish word for Berlanga it was the result of his being a very superstitious man and they say that he always included it to avoid bad luck. For others, it was a way of laughing at their art, and there are those who link it to their family’s friendship with that of the famous Valencian architect Javier Goerlich, whose father was the Austro-Hungarian consul in Valencia.
En 1941, Berlanga he voluntarily enlisted to the División Azul, earmy of Spanish volunteers who went to Russia to help the German army. He made this decision to save his father from the death penalty, as he had been fined a million pesetas and, at that time, your life was spared or not, depending on the money you gave to intermediaries.
When Welcome, Mr. Marshall! was awarded in 1953 at the Cannes Film Festival, Berlanga and the producers ended up in the police station, and later they were forced to censor a sequence of the film. And it is that, there is a moment in the tape in which a piece of paper, with the colors of the American flag is dragged by a stream and it seems that the American delegation at the awards did not like the image at all and they complained energetically, to which should be added the great idea of the Uninci production company to print a few thousand dollars with the effigy of two of the protagonists, José Isbert and Lolita Sevilla, impersonating the original effigy of that paper money that was the usual George Washington, and as a promotional plan to spread them throughout the festival. As Berlanga himself would say: “pure grotesque”.
Another curiosity is that when Berlanga presented El Verdugo in Italy they received him with a clean stone. And it is that, the film of 1963, coincided with the order of the caudillo to shoot the communist Julián Grimau and that of executing several anarchists. Franco back then it was nicknamed as el verdugo and of course, when it arrived Berlanga in Venice, the Italian anarchists were thought at first because of the title, that the film was an apology for the Spanish dictator. On the other hand, few know that the film Plácido was named after Franco’s censorship because Berlanga wanted to call it Feel a poor man at his table, but they did not allow it.
Berlanga was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain (AACCE) and also founded the erotic literature award La sonrisa vertical and the Award for the best womanin Spain at the Elda Footwear Museum to hold on to the armchair, managed to win in its first edition the one known as Queen of the Mornings of Telecinco,the presenter Ana Rosa Quintana. Although specialists in the seventh art agree that his films are the best in Spanish cinema, Berlanga only won one Goya but the reason is that only three of his films are after the birth of this award.
When he died at the age of 89, his heirs found some 3,000 erotic or pornographic books in the Valencian’s private library, most of them of high historical value due to their antiquity.
The filmmaker was the first Spaniard to receive the Medalla Internacional de las Artes and in the XI Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Historiadores del Cine, in Córdoba, he confessed himself a fan of Torrente.
And so far some of the anecdotes of the great Valencian filmmaker, now if you want to know more but in a more serious and professional way, you cannot miss the talk that the film critic Santiago Losada will offer about the figure of Berlanga and his cinema, this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at the Casa de la Cultura, an event organized by the more Wood cinema club.