Bardem, Juan Antonio


Bardem, Juan Antonio
(1922-2002)
   Juan Antonio Bardem studied engineering and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture before entering, as one in the first draft of students, the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas (the first Spanish official film school) in 1947, where he was Luis G. Berlanga's classmate friend and collaborator in film practices. He contributed to a number of scripts, uncredited, before joining forces with Berlanga to write and direct Esa pareja feliz (That Happy Couple, 1953) in 1951. This comedy about a married couple absorbed some of the lessons of neorealism, but was also imbued with a gentle humor indebted to the plays of Miguel Mihura. Although industry insiders understood the vitality and energy of these young filmmakers, the film would not be released until the success of ¡Bienvenido Mr. Marshall! (Welcome, Mr. Marshall!), Luis G. Berlanga, 1953), one of the key titles in Spanish film history, made Berlanga into a household name.
   Originally, Bardem had worked on the latter project, and he had substantial input in the script, but due to financial difficulties had to move on to other tasks. His first film as a sole director was Cómicos (Comedians, 1954), which took inspiration from All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1951) with its multistrand narrative, professional dynamics, and theatrical background. It remains a vivid document of stage lives in Spain during the 1950s. Cómicos is best seen today as a mood piece, tinged with a melancholy that would become one of the director's trademarks in the decade, and it was characteristic of a certain perception of post-war Spain as portrayed by the cinema of the period: sad, gray, populated by frustrated characters.
   Bardem then directed an even more personal project, inspired by existentialism and giving evidence of a reflective voice very unusual in the Spanish film mainstream. Muerte de un ciclista (Death of a Cyclist, 1955), features an adulterous couple who accidentally kill a cyclist on a road trip but run away as they are afraid their relationship will be discovered. The film's subtext is clearly about bourgeois bad conscience, inspired by Marxist thought. This issue became another key element of Bardem's career until the early 1960s: he had become a member of the Communist Party, which was then strictly illegal; in the future, he would use some of his films to convey some of the party's principles. The authorities soon were alerted to this, and he met many obstacles throughout his career. For instance, during the shooting in Palencia of Calle Mayor (Main Street, 1956), he was arrested and sent to jail for two weeks, in connection with recent riots in the university. In 1955, he was the most earnest critical voice in the Salamanca Conversations, demanding from the authorities more respect for artistic expression, as well as clearer censorship guidelines.
   For many critics, Calle Mayor remains his best film: this story of a provincial spinster who is the victim of a cruel joke was used to bring out the situation of women in a heartless society of bored men in a spirit close to Federico Fellini's I vitelloni, made a couple of years earlier. Although the film encountered objections from the censors (particularly for its representation of priests), it was finally released with some cuts. Fortunately, it had been made as a coproduction with France, and some uncensored prints made it into release circuits abroad. It went on to win the FIPRESCI award at the Venice Film Festival.
   Bardem's next film, La venganza (Revenge, 1958), was a very personal rural drama that, instead of dealing simply with honor, also introduced some awareness of laborers' working conditions. At this point, out of frustration with the system and the film industry, some of his projects become less personal (but not necessarily more commercial). After a flawed adaptation of Valle Inclán shot in coproduction with Mexico (Sonatas, 1959) and an unconventional bullfighting drama set outside the ring, A las cinco de la tarde (Five O'Clock in the Afternoon, 1961), Bardem returned to the oppressiveness of provincial life in Nunca pasa nada (Nothing Ever Happens, 1953), which is the last among his quality projects before he devoted himself to commercial films and star vehicles. It tells the story of a French chorus girl who stops in a small town in rural Spain, eliciting different reactions from the inhabitants. For some critics, this retreading of some themes present in Calle mayor is among his best films.
   The rest of his filmography is largely unremarkable. Disappointed with official obstacles, Bardem attached himself to a number of commercial projects, including the sensationalistic La corrupción de Chris Miller (The Corruption of Chris Miller, 1973) and Varietés (Variety, 1971), a revision of Cómicos starring Sara Montiel. With the Transition, he was once more able to make more incisive films, but 10 years of uninteresting projects had taken their toll, and his efforts at personal filmmaking with El Puente (The Holiday, 1977) and Siete días de enero (Seven Days in January, 1979) were disappointing, both critically and commercially.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bardem, Juan Antonio — (1922 2002)    Juan Antonio Bardem studied engineering and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture before entering, as one in the first draft of students, the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas (the first Spanish official …   Guide to cinema

  • Bardem, Juan Antonio — b. 1922, Madrid    Filmmaker    One of the famous three B s of the Franco period (see also Buñuel, Luis; Berlanga, Luis), Bardem was notorious for his strictures on Spanish cinema of the time as politically ineffective, socially false,… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture

  • Bardem, Juan Antonio — ► (1922 2002) Realizador, crítico y teórico del cine español. Colaboró con L. G. Berlanga. Se ha distinguido por su crítica de la vida en España. Realizador de Felices Pascuas (1954), La muerte de un ciclista (1955) y Calle Mayor (1956) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Juan-Antonio Bardem — est un réalisateur espagnol né le 2 juin 1922 et décédé d’une défaillance cardiaque le 30 octobre 2002. Il fut considéré par la critique internationale comme l un des acteurs les plus politisés de son pays et de son époque. Né …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Juan Antonio Bardem — Nombre real Juan Antonio Bardem Muñoz Nacimiento 2 de junio de 1922 , Madrid Fallecimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Juan Antonio Bardem — (* 2. Juli 1922 in Madrid; † 30. Oktober 2002 ebenda) war spanischer Filmregisseur und Drehbuchautor. Leben Juan Antonio Bardem war der Sohn des Schauspielerehepaares Rafael Bardem und Matilde Muñoz Sampedro. In den 1950er Jahren galt er mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Juan Antonio Bardem — est un réalisateur espagnol, né le 2 juin 1922 à Madrid où il est mort le 30 octobre 2002. Il fut considéré par la critique internationale comme l un des réalisateurs les plus politisés de son pays et de son époque. Fils d un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Juan Antonio Bardem — (2 June 1922–30 October 2002), was a Spanish screen writer and film director who was born and died in Madrid, and was best known for Muerte de un Ciclista (1955) which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. Bardem was an uncle… …   Wikipedia

  • Bardem — Bardem, Javier Encinas Bardem, llamado Javier Bardem, Juan Antonio …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bardem — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Bardem es un apellido de origen catalán. Remite a los miembros de una familia de actores y directores españoles, entre los que destacan los siguientes: Rafael Bardem Solé (1889 1972) Actor de cine español. Juan… …   Wikipedia Español


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