The director Carlos Saura, master of classic Spanish cinema, is dead. As the film academy in Madrid announced, he died at the age of 91 at home surrounded by his relatives. Saura rose to become the most important filmmaker in his country in the 1970s. He was twice nominated for an Oscar for his films “Carmen” (1983) and “Tango” (1998).
Saura began his film career in a neo-realist style, but as a critic of Franco’s dictatorship, he soon had to use metaphors and symbols to bypass censorship. In 1966 he won with the Movie “Die Jagd / La Caza” won his first silver bear at the Berlinale, followed by a second in 1968, and in 1981 he received it for “Los, Tempo!” also the Golden Bear.
This Saturday Saura was to be awarded a Goya prize in Seville. The artist has also been working on a new project since last year, a much-anticipated film about legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, who will mark the 50th anniversary of his death in April 2023 – which now remains unfinished.
Since beginning in 1955, Saura has directed more than 50 feature films. In Germany, alongside “Züchte Raben…” (1975) and “Bluthochzeit” (1981), “Carmen” (1983) was a hit. Regarding the ballet film about a performance of Georges Bizet’s famous opera of the same name, which got flamenco fever all over Europe at the time, Saura said a few years ago: “It’s crazy how well “Carmen” was received in Germany at the time. And the film is still shown on television while he’s in here Spain has been totally forgotten.”
Music and dance films were the great passions of the son of a lawyer, who was born in 1932 in Huesca not far from the Pyrenees in north-eastern Spain. In addition to flamenco, to which he dedicated several films, he also paid tribute to the jota dance of his native Aragon, the Argentine tango and fado from Portugal. Why so many musical films? The answer is simple: “My mother was a concert pianist, I’m a frustrated musician, but I have a great understanding of music. And there’s a demand.”