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."