Berlanga talks about himself (unfinished notes)

In Spain, humourists are historically and statistically enlisted among two great groups, the deaf and the bitter. Since I can hear quite well and, according to the critics I am a humourist, I assume I must belong to the socially resentful group. Before I started in the film industry I was a young gentleman from the provinces, one of those “vitelloni” who have been so brilliantly described by Fellini, another ex-fit-for-nothing. I sat with my friends on a stone bench and we watched people walk past. We looked down on everybody who dared walk past our leisure, but I confess we never hated them or felt jealous when we learnt that each one of those who walked past us had a car, silk ties, a beautiful girlfriend or elegant tuberculosis. With all this, I mean that I don’t agree with those who pigeonhole me as satirical. Varnishing everything with a fine layer of irony, perhaps because we are too shy to express our tenderness, everything around us, openly, does not give anyone the right to place one in the surly army of the Aristarchus. I am very selfish, so selfish that I only fight for everybody else’s happiness so that they will not bother me, and that’s why I don’t really want to point out angles of attack against future armies, but to enjoy the landscapes we have on this side, let’s say in the western civilization. So, if I intend to widen my independent canton or at least delimit its borders, the category of humourist comes out immediately. I only ask for God to be a humourist as much as I wish to be.

I am anarchic even in my Christianity. I have to humanize God to be able to love Him, even if it has to be with the venerable figure the catechism painted for us. Once I have formed His figure, then I have to give Him characteristics that He gives us. Characteristics that He seems to be officially denied, I don’t know out of which dogmas or strange respect. I mean that, apart from His omnipotence, I give Him a sense of humour, a keenness to have fun, a willingness to help those of us who believe or want the world to be saved through tenderness and smiles.

I have been thinking of a film for a while. A film in which God gives today’s world a miracle as a present, but a miracle in which there is, at the same time, a big joke against all the active unbelief and where the punishment for the impious, for those who turn faith into a business, has all the “rene clairesque” air of…

Luis García Berlanga

* Film Ideal, nº 21-22. Madrid, July-August 1958.