Carlos Saura

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
A child of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, writer-director Carlos Saura flowered during the waning years of Franco's dictatorship, dodging the aging regime's censorship by leading his films into allegory ... Read more »
Born: 01/03/1932 in Huesca, Aragon, ES

Filmography

Director (34)

Flamenco, Flamenco 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Fados 2009 (Movie)

(Director)

Io, Don Giovanni 2009 (Movie)

(Director)

Iberia 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

The 7th Day 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

Salome 2001 (Movie)

(Director)

Bunuel, King Solomon 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

Goya in Bordeaux 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

Tango 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

Flamenco 1997 (Movie)

(Director)

Pajarico 1997 (Movie)

(Director)

Outrage 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Taxi 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Marathon 1992 (Movie)

(Director)

Sevillanas 1992 (Movie)

(Director)

Ay, Carmela! 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

El Sur 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Elisa, Vida Mia 1990 (Movie)

(Director)

La Noche Oscura 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

El Dorado 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Mama Cumple 100 Años 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

El Amor Brujo 1986 (Movie)

(Director)

Carmen 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

Los Zancos 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

Antonieta 1981 (Movie)

(Director)

Sweet Hours 1981 (Movie)

(Director)

Bodas de Sangre 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

Deprisa, Deprisa 1979 (Movie)

(Director)

Los Ojos Vendados 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Cria! 1976 (Movie)

(Director)

Ana Y Los Lobos 1972 (Movie)

(Director)

Prima Angelica. La 1972 (Movie)

(Director)

El Jardin de las Delicias 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

The Hunt 1965 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (27)

Flamenco, Flamenco 2014 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Fados 2009 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Io, Don Giovanni 2009 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Iberia 2004 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Salome 2001 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Bunuel, King Solomon 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Goya in Bordeaux 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tango 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Flamenco 1997 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Pajarico 1997 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Outrage 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Sevillanas 1992 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Ay, Carmela! 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

El Sur 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Elisa, Vida Mia 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

La Noche Oscura 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

El Dorado 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mama Cumple 100 Años 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

El Amor Brujo 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Carmen 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Los Zancos 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Antonieta 1981 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Los Ojos Vendados 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Cria! 1976 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Ana Y Los Lobos 1972 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

El Jardin de las Delicias 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Hunt 1965 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Art Department (2)

Fados 2009 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Iberia 2004 (Movie)

(Production Designer)
Producer (1)

Salome 2001 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Other (1)

Carmen 1983 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Biography

A child of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, writer-director Carlos Saura flowered during the waning years of Franco's dictatorship, dodging the aging regime's censorship by leading his films into allegory, dreams and symbolism. His features exploring fascism's repressive effects on society became portraits of Spain in a dark mirror, poignantly expressing the country's uneasy relationship with its past. While Franco lived, the filmmaker felt compelled to speak against tyranny, but the Generalissimo's death in 1975 freed Saura to speak for himself. Although he has done fine work since, many disappointed by his unwillingness to address political themes in the post-Franco era believe his best films are behind him, that the Franco years encouraged his creative personality like freedom could not. After making pictures for more than 40 years, he has retained a trademark of highly unorthodox but unfailing routine: he begins at the beginning and shoots chronologically. "I write the end at the start, but then, when I get to it, I always change it according to how I feel."

Saura was already established as a still photographer when his brother Antonio convinced him to attend film school in Madrid. Here he came into contact with the works of the Italian neo-realists, whose influences were evident in his first feature, "Los Golfos" (1960), with its location shooting, use of nonprofessional actors and concern with social issues. Though the abbreviated cut (10 minutes lost to the censors) shown at Cannes received a cool reception (and a hostile one when released in Spain), the story of slum boys trying to escape poverty as bullfighters marked a refreshing return to realism for the Spanish cinema after years of Franco-ist escapism. Because its producer was also co-producer of Luis Bunuel's controversial, scandal-producing homecoming pic "Viridiana" (1961), it was three years before Saura directed again, and that experience, "Lament for a Bandit" (1964), ended as an unhappy compromise with his producer, resulting in a more orthodox and spectacular swashbuckler than was originally intended, convincing Saura of the necessity to make films over which he had total control.

Producer Elias Querejeta came aboard for "La Caza/The Hunt" (1966), inaugurating a long-standing association, and director of photography Luis Cuadrado joined the team which also included Pablo G. del Amo, Saura's editor since the documentary "Cuenca" (1958). Set in a barren valley near Madrid, still cratered by wartime shelling, it tells the story of four men--three who fought for the fascists in the civil war--out for a day of hunting which ends in a murderous explosion of violence. Without mentioning Franco by name, "La Caza" was a powerful indictment of the society he created, as well as a taut psychological thriller. It received the Silver Bear at Berlin as did his follow-up, "Peppermint Frappe" (1968), the first of many films with companion and muse Geraldine Chaplin. Saura's flight from objective reality reflected both the influence of Bunuel's surrealism and the Spanish artistic tradition of "esperpento," an absurdist type of black humor in which fact and fantasy intermingle. Esperpento was strongly in evidence for "Garden of Delights" (1970), a film in which Saura's criticism of the Franco regime became even more overt, once again provoking the censors' scissors.

"La Prima Angelica/Cousin Angelica" (1974), a Jury Prize winner at Cannes and the first film made in Spain from the viewpoint of the losing side, somehow made it past the censors without cuts. Scenes like the disturbing one of a boy being beaten to the tune of a Franco-ist anthem enraged the Falangists (fascists), and the film so impressed Bunuel that he declared he would have given part of his life to have made it. Saura's partnership with Chaplin (an exquisite face in the shadows of so many of his films) reached its peak with "Cria Cuervos/Raise Ravens/Cria!" (1976) and "Elisa, vida mia/Elisa, My Life" (1977). Most critics admired the former for the delicacy of its psychological perceptions rather than as any kind of political statement, and the director himself placed the latter on the other side of the divide separating his pre-Franco and post-Franco work. Functioning as a metaphor for the relation between art and life, creation and death, the intensely personal picture starred Fernando Rey as a novelist reunited after a long separation with his daughter (Chaplin), who continues his last book after he dies.

Since Franco's demise, Saura has most frequently immersed himself in dance musicals, including a celebrated trilogy ("Blood Wedding" 1981, the Oscar-nominated "Carmen" 1983, "El Amor Brujo" 1986) with choreographer Antonio Gades. Adapted from classics (a play by Garcia Lorca, an opera by Bizet, a de Falla ballet) and set in contemporary settings, they are among the most popular films in Spanish box-office history and just one example of the surprising diversity displayed by the director post-Franco. "Deprisa, Deprisa" (1980) returned to the issues Saura had explored in "Los Golfos", and if he was repeating himself, he was doing so with a clarity previously absent, perhaps owing to the contributions of the four street youngsters who worked with him on the script. "Dulces Horas" (1982), "Antonieta" (1982) and "Los Zancos" (1984) were all soul-searching stories dealing with the impact of suicide; "El Dorado" (1988) was a lavish historical epic based upon the life of Conquestador Pedro de Ursuo (which also formed the basis for Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"); and "Mama Turns One Hundred" (1979) showed that the director could also make people laugh.

In that same vein was "Ay, Carmela!" (1990), a clever, rapier-witted farce which made a clean sweep of that year's Goya Awards. Starring Carmen Maura as a vaudevillian who entertains partisans during the Spanish Civil War, the funny and poignant story chronicles her plight when she, her husband and their mute assistant get trapped behind enemy lines. Saura stumbled with "Dispara!/Shoot!" (1993), his tale of a circus performer who goes on a rampage after being raped by three men, but roared back into the winner's circle with "Flamenco" (1995), his fifth dance film (also "Sevillans" 1992) and his first collaboration with director of photography Vittorio Storaro. Filming in an abandoned train station in Seville, the pair created a magical, minimalist world of light in which the singing, dancing and guitar-playing traditions of the flamenco could hold the viewer's undivided attention. Unable to resist the lure of a winning formula, he returned with "Tango" (1998, his third picture with Storaro), which earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film. Again, with Storaro's input, Saura crafted a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking complete with romantic entanglements (the director falls in love with the star) that also functioned as a richly textured, lyrical evocation of the tango's spiritual and political significance in Argentina.

Relationships

Geraldine Chaplin Actor

Companion
daughter of Charlie Chaplin granddaughter of Eugene O'Neill in a number of films by Saura had one son together

Adela Medrano

Wife
mother of Saura's two older sons

Carlos Medrano

Son
born c. 1958 mother, Adele Medrano served as assistant director for father's "El Amor Brujo" (1986)

Antonio Pacheco

Father

Antonio Saura

Son
born c. 1960 mother, Adele Medrano has worked on father's films serves as director of the Media Business School in Madrid

Shane Saura

Son
mother, Geraldine Chaplin

Antonio Saura

Brother

Fermina Torrente

Mother

EDUCATION

attended prep school run by Augustinian Friars in Getafe, near Madrid

Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematograficas

Madrid 1952 - 1957
graduation film, "Sunday Afternoon" (1957); school later renamed Escuela Oficial de Cinematografia

attended secular high school in Madrid

Milestones

1999

Directed "Goya in Bordeaux", a biopic of the renowned Spanish painter; fourth collaboration with Storaro; premiered at the Montreal Film Festival

1998

Revisited the dance musical with "Tango"; third collaboration with Storaro; received Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film

1996

Reteamed with Storaro for "Taxi"

1995

Returned triumpantly to dance with "Flamenco"; first collaboration with director of photography Vittorio Storaro; last collaboration to date with editor del Amo

1993

Stumbled with "Dispara!/Shoot!", starring Antonio Banderas

1990

Helmed the dramatic musical "Ay, Carmela", about vaudvillians who entertain partisans during the Spanish Civil War and find themselves trapped behind enemy lines

1988

Directed "El Dorado", a lavish historical epic based on the life of Conquistador Pedro de Ursuo

1986

Completed dance trilogy with "El Amor Brujo/Love the Magician", adapted from Manuel de Falla's 1915 ballet; also choreographed by Gades

1983

Reteamed with Gades to create a ballet/film adaptation of "Carmen"; tried to reassert the story's Spanish origins by adapting it as a flamenco ballet; recieved a Best Foreign-Language Film Academy Award nomination

1981

Returned to the subject and style of early work with "Deprisa, Deprisa/Hurry, Hurry"

1981

Collaborated with renowned choreographer Antonio Gades to film ballet adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding"

1979

Used virtually the same cast from "Anna and the Wolves" for the black comedy update "Mama Turns One Hundred"; resurrected Chaplin's character who had died in the original film; last film with Chaplin

1977

Helmed "Elisa, Vida Mia", starring Fernando Rey and Chaplin as father and daughter

1976

First solo screenwriting credit, "Cria!/Raise Ravens"; also produced; film won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes

1974

"Cousin Angelica" was the first film made in Spain from the viewpoint of the losing side of that country's civil war; won a Jury Prize at Cannes; released in USA in 1977

1972

"Anna and the Wolves" initially banned for its "morbid" treatment of religion and sex; expressed the director's fervent view that repressed sexuality could lead to abnormal and destructive behavior

1969

Criticism of the Franco regime became more overt in "The Garden of Delights", a blackly humorous story about a man who forgets the number of his Swiss bank account after an accident, and whose desperate family reenact the guilty past in an unsuccessful at

1968

First film directing Geraldine Chaplin, "Pepperment Frappe"

1966

Initial collaboration with producer Elias Querejeta, "La Caza/The Hunt"; first Spanish film to reach the New York Film Festival

1964

After being forced to compromise second feature, "Lament for a Bandit", decided he would make only films for which he could have total responsibility

1960

Feature directorial debut, "Los Golfos/The Urchins/The Hooligans/Riff-Raff"; first Spanish feature to be shot entirely on location

1958

Helmed color documentary "Cuenca"; also produced and served as cinematographer; first collaboration with editor Pablo G del Amo

1957

Taught direction at Escuela Oficial de Cinematografia

1956

Directed nine-minute documentary, "El Pequeno rio Manzanares"

1955

Made first short student film, "Antonio Saura"

1951

Had first one-man show in Madrid

1935

Family moved to Madrid and lived there throughout the Spanish Civil War

Left engineering school and began career at age 18 as a roving freelance photographer specializing in music and dance subjects; earned living this way for three years (c. 1950-1953)

Bonus Trivia

.

Saura has directed operas in Stuttgart and Spoleto.

.

On why "Anna and the Wolves" finally made it past the censors: "The Ministry of Information determined it was a lousy film, that it would bore everyone, and that for these reasons, it wasn't really dangerous to authorize its distribution. What the adminstration didn't take into account was the repercussions of (such) films outside of Spain. Later they did." --Carlos Saura, quoted in "World Film Directors, Volume Two" edited by John Wakeman (New York: The H W Wilson Company, 1988)

.

About the reaction of his cast to the biggest production number in "Tango", a vivid remembrance of Argentine military rule and its victims who "disappeared": "And I had not realised that it would still cause so much pain. We did it and I saw some of the young cast crying when it was over. They had lost relatives and their memories were raw." --Saura to Peter Preston in THE OBSERVER, June 27, 1999

SIMILAR ARTICLES