Carlos Saura

"The father of modern Spanish cinema. Elements of Saura's innovative work are still reflected today in the films of such directors as Pedro Almodóvar and Bigas Luna. While some of his films are noted by their daring, vivid use of colour and symbolism, Saura has also proved adept at dramas of realism that exposed weaknesses in the prevailing social conditions." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)

Carlos Saura

Director / Screenwriter
(1932- ) Born January 4, Huesca, Aragón, Spain

Key Production Countries: Spain, France
Key Genres: Drama, Romantic Drama, Psychological Drama, Family Drama, Music, Melodrama, Reunion Films, Dance, Documentary
Key Collaborators: Pablo G. del Amo (Editor), Elías Querejeta (Producer), Teo Escamilla (Cinematographer), Geraldine Chaplin (Leading Actress), Luis Cuadrado (Cinematographer), Rafael Azcona (Screenwriter), Luis de Pablo (Composer), José Luis López Vázquez (Leading Actor), Rafael Palmero (Production Designer), Marisa Porcel (Character Actress), Antonio Gades (Leading Actor), Alfredo Mayo (Leading Actor)

"Saura has always been fascinated by tradition, history and the way fantasy and artifice intersect with reality. His early films, made under Franco, are dark allegorical dramas (and occasionally comedies) which explore how the repressive dictatorship had a baneful effect on all areas of life… The need to evade censorship made for dramatic subtlety, delicacy and psychological resonance; after Franco's death, Saura's work became more direct and, surprisingly, less political. - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"During his almost 50 years as a filmmaker, Carlos Saura has been witness to all kinds of convulsions in Spanish cinema and its sociopolitical context. His films, born under the attentive gaze of Franco’s authority and censorship, navigated the transition to democracy with an equal and constant focus on urgent contemporary realities on one hand, and the personal and historical memories and artistic roots of Spanish cultural heritage on the other… If Saura’s work in the Sixties and Seventies is distinguished by its vitality, drive, and sociopolitical relevance, it has to be said that since the mid-Eighties his films have shown signs of increasing fatigue. In the latter half of his career there’s a clear effort to maintain a certain balance between folk-culture research, social portraits, and the study of their origins, but Saura’s preoccupations and methods now seem outmoded; his later films are pale shadows of his earlier, socially engaged work." - Manu Yáñez Murillo (Film Comment, 2007)
"Carlos Saura is the grand old man of Spanish cinema and a prime example of how severe restrictions can bring out the art and cunning in a film director… Saura's films were often packed with metaphors and a magic realist blur of truth and fantasy. A left-wing filmmaker working under the Franco regime, the ex-still photographer defied the fascist dictator's apparatchiks through a combination of guile and symbolism, writing one script for the state censors and one for the actors… His most famous works have been the trilogy of hermetically sealed musicals starring dancer and choreographer Antonio Gades: Blood Wedding (1981), Carmen (1983) and El amor burro (1986). Saura says he makes musicals because the genre encourages experiment and artifice." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"For over forty years one of Spain’s most important and internationally recognized directors, Carlos Saura has created a legacy devoted to the politics and culture of his country. Whether it be the literal and metaphorical exploration of violence in the Franco-era film La Caza (1965) or a more free-spirited tragicomedy like Ay!Carmela (1990), chronicling a cabaret trio during the Spanish Civil War, Saura’s cinema is a virtual map to the sociological terrain of his
homeland." - Stephen Garrett (IndieWire, 1999)
"A leading figure of Spanish cinema in the 1970s and 80s, Saura is known mainly for his explorations of the repressive effects of the Franco regime on Spanish society… It was not until Saura's third feature, La Caza (1966) that his abilities were noticed. With La Caza, Saura established a crew (including Elías Querejeta as producer, Luis Cuadrado as photographer, and Pablo G. del Amo as editor) which would work with him on a number of features. Saura's films of the next ten years were much influenced by the Spanish artistic tradition of esperpento, an absurdist type of black humor in which fact and fantasy are intermixed." - Phil Pantone (The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
La Caza (1966), Cría cuervos (1976) , Carmen (1983)
Worth a Look
The Delinquents (1960), Peppermint Frappé (1967), The Garden of Delights (1970), Anna and the Wolves (1973), Cousin Angelica (1974), Elisa, My Life (1977), Blindfolded Eyes (1978), Blood Wedding (1981), Deprisa, deprisa (1981), Ay, Carmela! (1990), Flamenco (1995), Tango (1998), Fados (2007)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Carlos Saura / Favourite Films
42nd Street (1933) Lloyd Bacon, El (1953) Luis Buñuel, Kagemusha (1980) Akira Kurosawa, The Milky Way (1969) Luis Buñuel, Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman.
Source: Metro (2012)
Carlos Saura / Fan Club
Pier Marton, Jean-Pierre Frimbois, Michał Oleszczyk.
Peppermint Frappé