Juan Antonio Bardem - Director

Nationality: Spanish. Born: Juan Antonio Bardem-Munoz in Madrid, 2 July 1922. Education: Instituto de Investigaciones Cinematograficas, 1947–48. Career: Worked for Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, assigned to Cinema section, 1946; wrote for film periodicals, and on scripts with Luis Berlanga, from 1947; began film magazine Objectivo , 1953 (banned by government, 1955); arrested for political reasons, 1956 and later; produced through Uninci company, 1958–61; head of Spanish directors' guild, 1970's; directed Bulgarian/USSR/East German production of The Warning , 1981.

Films as Director:


Paseo sobre una guerra antigua (co-d, co-sc) (silent short incorporated by Luis Escobar into feature La honradez de la cerradura)


Barajas, aeropuerto internacional (short) (+ sc)


Esa pareja feliz ( That Happy Pair ) (co-d, co-sc)


CĂłmicos ( Comedians ) (+ sc); Felices Pascuas (+ co-sc)


Muerte de un ciclista ( Death of a Cyclist ; Age of Infidelity ) (+ sc)


Calle Mayor ( Grand Rue ; The Lovemaker ) (+ sc)


La muerte de Pio Baroja (unreleased) (+ sc); La venganza ( The Vengeance ) (+ sc)


Sonatas (+ pr, sc)


A las cinco de la tarde (+ pr, co-sc)


Los inocentes (+ co-sc)


Nunca pasa nada (+ co-sc)


Los pianos mécanicos ( Les Pianos méchaniques ; The Uninhibited ) (+ sc)


El ultimo dia de la guerra ( The Last Day of the War ) (+ co-sc)


Varietes (+ sc)


Four versions of The Mysterious Island : 1. La isla misteriosa (for Spanish and Latin American distribution), 2. L'isola misteriosa e il Capitano Nemo (for Italian distribution, incorporates material directed by Henri Colpi), 3. L'ile mystérieuse and The Mysterious Island (French, English and international version, co-d with Colpi), 4. six-hour TV version for international distribution; La corrupción de Chris Miller ( The Corruption of Chris Miller ) (+ role); Behind the Shutters


El podor del deseo ; Foul Play


The Dog ; El puente


7 Dias de enero ( Seven Days in January ) (+ sc)


The Warning


Lorca, la Muerte de un Poeta (+ sc)


El Joven Picasso ( Young Picasso: 1881–1906 ) (TV)


Resultado final (+sc)

Other Films:


Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall! ( Welcome, Mr. Marshall! ) (Berlanga) (co-sc)


Novio a la vista (Berlanga) (co-sc)


El torero (Wheeler) (Spanish version of Châteaux en Espagne ) (co-dialogue)


Playa prohibida ( El esconocido ) (Soler) (sc)


El amĂłr de Don Juan ( Don Juan ) (Berry) (co-sc); Carte a Sara (Manzanos and Bercovici) (sc)


L'uomo dai calzoni corti ( Tal vez mañana ) (Pellegrini) (pr)


Viridiana (Buñuel) (pr)


El Diputado (Eloy de la Iglesia) (role)


Adiós pequeña (Uribe) (role)


Noctámbulos (Campón) (ro as Old Bum)


By BARDEM: articles—

"Spanish Highway," in Films and Filming (London), June 1957.

Film Makers on Filmmaking , edited by Harry Geduld, Bloomington, Indiana, 1967.

"Cara a cara . . . Bardem-Berlanga," in Cinema 2002 (Madrid), July/August 1980.

Interview with P. Farinas, in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 103, 1983.

"Puedo considerarme propiamente un realista," in Cine Cubano (Havana), 1988.

Interview with Wolfgang Martin Hamdorf, in Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), 1994.

On BARDEM: books—

Oms, Marcel, J.A. Bardem , Lyons (Premier Plan no. 21).

Scwartz, Ronald, Spanish Film Directors: 21 Profiles , Metuchen, New Jersey, 1986.

Hopewell, John, Out of the Past: Spanish Cinema after Franco , London, 1987.

Higginbotham, Virginia, Spanish Film under Franco , Austin, Texas, 1988.

On BARDEM: articles—

"The Arrest," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1956.

Aranda, J.F., "Bardem: Une Méthode de travail," in Cinéma (Paris), no. 33, 1959.

Durand, Philippe, "Juan Antonio Bardem, homme d'Espagne," in Image et Son (Paris), October 1959.

Carril, M. Martinex, "Despues de 27 años, Bardem se revitaliza," in Cinemateca Revista (Andes), July 1980.

Biofilmography, in Cahiers de la Cinémathèque (Perpignan), Winter 1984.

Guarner, J.L., "Bunuel ja perilliset," in Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 8, 1989.

* * *

A pioneer figure in Spanish film, Juan Antonio Bardem is also one of Spain's most consistently political filmmakers. In his early movies Esa pareja feliz and Bienvenido Mr. Marshall , co-directed with Luis Garcia Berlanga, he broke with prevailing Francoist film traditions that emphasized militarism, folklore, literary adaptations and costume dramas. Bardem and Berlanga chose instead to present scenes of contemporary Spanish life and used humor to describe and criticize aspects of Spanish society. With Bienvenido Mr. Marshall the two directors were recognized as leading filmmakers and, along with others of their generation, they set out to revitalize the Spanish film industry and to rescue Spanish films from mediocrity. At a meeting held in Salamanca in 1955, they drafted a statement of principles in which Bardem wrote: "After 60 years, Spanish cinema is politically futile, socially false, intellectually worthless, aesthetically valueless and industrially paralytic." Bardem went on to note that Spanish cinema "had turned its back on reality . . . (and was) totally removed from Spanish realistic traditions [as found] in paintings and novels."

Bardem and other filmmakers who attended the meeting at Salamanca also deplored the lack of general film culture in Spain, noting that it was not possible to see 95 of movies made abroad. Bardem felt that it was important for Spaniards to keep abreast of worldwide trends in filmmaking and especially to become familiar with Italian neo-realism. This was the single most important influence in the development of his own cinematic style. Both in his movies and in his writings he remained faithful to the tenets of neo-realism. In order to foster a film culture in Spain, Bardem founded Objetivo, a cinema journal that was eventually banned by the government. During its brief existence, Objetivo nevertheless became a rallying point for Spanish cineastes, raised the level of film criticism in Spain and informed readers about prohibited films. Several years later, in yet another effort to ensure the autonomy and integrity of Spanish film, Bardem joined with Berlanga, Carlos Saura, and other directors and founded a production company, UNINCI, which operated until 1962, when it was closed down for co-producing Luis Buñuel's Viridiana. Because of these endeavors as well as his political outspokenness, Bardem was arrested seven times during the Franco years. He nevertheless persisted in his efforts to make political films in Spain. In spite of his lack of favor at home, he won many prizes at film festivals around the world and directed co-productions in Italy, France, Argentina, and Bulgaria.

Bardem is most closely associated with films that chronicle the negative effects of Francoism on the psyche of Spaniards of different classes, regions and social milieus. In several films he dramatizes the alienation fostered by Francoism by focusing on a single individual who often bears Bardem's own given name—Juan. This Spanish everyman feels frustrated and stifled in a closed society. He attempts to find outlets through hobbies, intrigues, and even through radio contests, but all means prove unsatisfactory. In the course of his efforts, Juan is led to reevaluate himself and the world around him in order to find new options. The films depict the choices that each Juan makes, becoming increasingly critical of individuals who act selfishly, cowardly, or who refuse to take a stand. These general themes continue in the movies Bardem has made since the death of Franco.

—Katherine Singer Kovács

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