Mario Camus obituary | Movie

The Spanish movie director Mario Camus, who has died aged 86, was shocked by the success of his 1984 movie The Holy Innocents. An unflinching portrayal of rural poverty in Nineteen Sixties Francoist Spain, it broke Spanish field workplace information, topping the invoice in cinemas for 18 months. When it narrowly missed the Palme d’Or on the Cannes movie competition, the divided jury awarded it a consolatory particular point out.

Years later, Camus discovered himself in the identical Paris restaurant as Dirk Bogarde, the jury president who had fought to present him the highest prize. Bogarde exchanged simply two phrases with Camus: “Milana Bonita.” There’s not a Spaniard over the age of fifty who doesn’t know what which means.

In his movie Milana Bonita is the title given to his pet jackdaw by Azaria, previous in physique but perpetually a baby. He’s a young burden for his sister Régula who, like her husband, Paco, works and lives on the mercy of the caciques – landowners – who shuttle between the town and their estates in Extremadura. Paco, performed by Alfredo Landa, is handled as little greater than one other farm animal by Ivan, the landowner’s son, who lames him for all times by forcing him to climb a tree with a damaged leg from which, inevitably, he falls. After Ivan callously shoots Milana Bonita useless, Azaria drops a noose over his head and hangs him.

The unsentimental however haunting adaptation of Miguel Delibes’s novel of the identical title was an surprising business hit in the midst of Spain’s “Movida”, the hedonistic lengthy goodbye to the gray many years of dictatorship.

Landa, a stalwart of the Franco-era cinematic panorama, obtained overdue inventive recognition, whereas Francisco Rabal, who performed Azaria, was topped Spain’s main actor. That they shared the Cannes finest actor award was as a lot success because the intensely personal Camus may want for.

When he accepted a Goya lifetime achievement award in 2011 he mentioned: “With out the actors we’re nothing, it’s as clear as that.” Even Delibes was moved to say that Camus “triumphed over me” by enhancing on his novel.

The Holy Innocents, 1984. {Photograph}: Everett Assortment/Alamy

Born in Santander, the capital of Cantabria, Mario was the son of Viriato Camus Pérez, a tailor, and his spouse, Salud (nee García Ruiz). The household had been uprooted to the village of Vernejo, south-west of the town, when Viriato’s store in Santander burned down. Mario escaped from the backward rural Spain that he would later depict by profitable a spot to review regulation in Madrid by means of a basketball scholarship.

His buddy Basilio Martín Patino, with whom he based a movie membership for senior colleges that flirted with jeopardy by displaying Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open Metropolis, persuaded him to desert his regulation research. In 1956 he entered the Official Cinema Faculty in Madrid, the place he was initially drawn to scriptwriting, collaborating in 1960 with Carlos Saura on the screenplay of his first function movie, the neorealistic Los Golfos. Throughout filming he fell in love with the scriptwriter Concha Bergareche. They married the next yr and finally raised seven youngsters.

He graduated from movie college in 1962 with a brief movie, El Borracho (The Drunkard), wherein he introduced the themes to which he would continuously return – making flesh-and-blood characters from Spain’s marginalised and downtrodden. Camus directed his first full-length movie, Los Farsantes, in 1963, a street film a few wandering troupe of actors – the “fakers” of the title – without end one sq. meal away from damage. The identical yr he directed his personal screenplay, Younger Sánchez, a few boxer, which gave him his first style of success with a string of awards.

The House of Bernarda Alba, 1987, directed by Mario Camus.
The Home of Bernarda Alba, 1987, directed by Mario Camus. {Photograph}: Alamy

Camus stands other than his friends for 2 causes. First, his variations reintroduced the nationwide literature to a brand new technology of Spaniards. He tailored Lorca, Calderón de la Barca, Ignacio Aldecoa, Arturo Barea, Eduardo Mendoza – at all times targeted on the spirit moderately than the letter of their works.

The success of his 1980 tv adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdos’s Fortunata and Jacinta in a Swiss-French-Spanish manufacturing demonstrated his second high quality: mastery of the ensemble piece. This was evident in The Holy Innocents, however much more so in his previous movie, La Colmena (The Beehive, 1982), tailored from Jose Camilo Cela’s post-second world conflict novel, wherein the battered and pinched metropolis of Madrid is the protagonist. Camus gained the Golden Bear at that yr’s Berlin movie competition with it.

He cared nothing for fame, producers complaining that he misplaced curiosity within the venture as quickly because it was full. He lived in Santander, and prevented interviews. Together with his Cantabrian reserve, he adopted the motto “I solely make movies.”

Recalling The Holy Innocents’ success at Cannes, he mentioned: “Everybody congratulated us, however what I wished was to go away. It at all times bothered me quite a bit to be below the highlight and to need to say clever issues, particularly with the French.”

Camus made 29 movies. His final, The Meadow of the Stars (2007), handled the abandonment of the aged and Spain’s huge rural world – themes that resonate at this time. It opens with strains from TS Eliot’s 4 Quartets: “The one knowledge we are able to hope to amass is the knowledge of humility. Humility is infinite.”

In 2015 he printed a group of brief tales, his final printed work. He missed the crew spirit of film-making to the tip. He was happy with his file for having at all times stored to the capturing schedule. On the times that he completed forward of it, he would usually play a recreation of soccer along with his technicians.

Concha died in 2016.

Mario Camus García, movie director and screenwriter, born 20 April 1935; died 18 September 2021

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