Obituary for director Carlos Saura: Cave of memories – culture
Loneliness and abandonment are heartwarmingly present in this moment: A little girl, Ana, eight years old, puts the tonearm on the single on her little record player and the song begins, which is played through the Movie became world famous: “Porque te vas” – the lament over a lost lover.
The girl is Ana Torrent, the movie is “Cría Cuervos / Raise Ravens” from 1975. Ana has lost her mother, with her two sisters she starts spinning in a dance to the music, as enchantingly clumsy as the little song trundles along: “Behind the hands of a clock are all the hours we still have to live, they wait there. All the hours we still have to live, they will wait.”
It is a quiet, beautiful moment in the mighty work of Carlos Saura. Geraldine Chaplin is Ana’s mother and then, a dual role, also Ana who has grown up and remembers her childhood. Chaplin was Saura’s partner at the time, she was in nine of his films from the 1960s and 1970s, from “Peppermint Frappé” in 1967 to “Mamá cumple cien años/ Mama turns 100 years old” in 1979.
She was often the naïve victim of men, in films that were loud and aggressive, full of wolfish aggression and masculine dominance, of bourgeois visions of potency and fascist lust for power, like Saura – born on January 4, 1932 in Huesca, Aragon – she experienced in Franco -Spain. Of course, dreams play a big role, and how they shape and distort reality.
The rhythm of the flamenco women shakes the order of the men
Saura is greatly impressed by Luis Buñuel (as well as by Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini). “Cave of Memories”, the German title of one of his films, fits very well for Saura’s work, or for that movie theater as a place of regression, of escape. Because of this, he repeatedly had difficulties with the Franco censorship (“What is it allowed to show?” – “Everything you want – except sex, politics and religion!”), and that’s why his films are always on the big international screens Festivals have been awarded, in Berlin or in Cannes.
In Cannes in 1960, while presenting his film “Los golfos”, he met Luis Buñuel and they became friends. A famous photo shows the two at the shooting of Saura’s film “Llanto por un bandido”, a historical freedom fighter ballad, 1964, two professionals in the highest concentration. Buñuel plays an executioner, who will carry out a few executions in the film, with the garotte, a screw that squeezes the delinquents’ throats shut.
In the 1980s, Saura began his trilogy of dance films – he had wanted to be a flamenco dancer himself, but then went on to study engineering and then at the film school in Madrid. The films were all world successes, “Bodas de sangre/ Blood Wedding”, 1981 based on the play by Lorca, “Carmen”, 1983, based on Bizet’s opera, and “El amor brujo/ Love Magic”, 1986 based on the ballet by Manuel de Falla. The hard rhythm of the flamenco women shakes the order of the men – but without creating a counter-order.
Even in old age Saura’s energy was inexhaustible. In 2000 he wrote his first novel about the civil war, “¡Esa Luz! /Dieses Licht!”, at the moment of his death he had a Picasso project and he was in the process of making a film about Johann Sebastian to complete the creek.
Five years ago he made a small film about the architect Renzo Piano, when he was building a cultural center in the Galician coastal city of Santander. A building that points out into the sea, that should float without touching the ground. A cinema dream. You look into the dark, Piano explains the origin of his vision. This also applies in a touching way to Carlos Saura’s cinema, you need a moment of silence, of emptiness… There is a thin thread that connects technology and poetry. Carlos Saura died on Friday at the age of 91.