Prologue to “Le cinéma espagnol des origines à nos jours”
Normally the books about the history of the cinema are only read by professionals who assess their quality according to the number of lines and the amount of praise dedicated to them, or by punctilious experts who are only interested in finding the errors susceptible of disregarding the book. This is why writing any historical analysis about the cinema is practically a masochistic act, because such effort yields little moral benefits.
In Emmanuel Larraz’s case there is a double effort involved, because, to start with, he has met the difficulties any historian normally meets, that is, looking for documents, works, testimonies, etc. which are very difficult to find in an industry as lacking in traceable sources as the Seventh Art and, secondly, because he has met the difficulties entailed by the almost suicidal election of one of the most difficult film industries to catalogue with a certain historical rigour: the Spanish film industry.
I sincerely believe that there are few Spanish film directors who can offer enough data about their own works, about which they tend to keep very little information. And the same can be said about producers, distributors and even official government institutions, which have little interest in the preservation of their archives. Here, we do everything, even politically speaking, thoughtlessly, relying on our memory, and the results are not always brilliant.
That’s why, when somebody as brave as Larraz embarks on the difficult task of writing a history of our film industry, he only manages to carry out his work for two reasons: thanks to his tenacity, to start with, and, especially, because he does not live in Spain.
As a good example of my fellow countrymen’s inability to establish cinematographic balances, suffice it to say that the first time all my works could be put together for a retrospective exhibition was in Milan, thanks to my Italian friends’ efforts, whereas in Spain they thought it was an impossible task.
In Larraz’s case, however, we must celebrate not only the fact that he has managed to carry out such an arduous task, but also the accuracy and precision he has shown in doing so. That is, at least, my opinion, although I must confess that this is the first time I have read this type of manuscript from beginning to end, without stopping only at the part about my own works. And I must add that the chapters dedicated to the cinema during Franco’s ruling are the most precise, authentic and lucid which have been written about the topic to this day, and that they explain clearly the filmed reflection of a time that runs the risk of falling into obscurantism.
All these points make it a pleasure to predict for this history, which is so necessary to have a precise knowledge of the Spanish film industry, a prominent place in the bibliography about films all the lovers of life on the screen, among whom I include myself, work with. In fact, the success I predict for it should go beyond the circle of those interested in Spanish films, because the history of the cinema is, after all, the history of people.
Luis García Berlanga
* Prologue to “Le cinéma espagnol des origen à nos jours”. Emmanuel Larraz. Les Éditions du Cerf, París, 1986.
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