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“Comedy is there to be shared”

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Fernando Trueba • Director

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- Fernando Trueba signs The Queen of Spain, an ensemble, historical comedy in which he revisits the genre and the characters he popularised in The Girl of Your Dreams

Fernando Trueba  • Director
(© Lorenzo Pascasio)

Penélope Cruz toplines the cast of The Queen of Spain [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Fernando Trueba
film profile
]
, Fernando Trueba’s long-awaited return to the world and the characters he made popular with the 1998 smash hit The Girl of Your Dreams.

Cineuropa: It was a real pleasure watching your film this morning at a screening attended by a young audience, in the Information Science department of the Complutense University of Madrid.
Fernando Trueba:
The Queen of Spain is a film you need to see with an audience, rather than at a screening for a handful of people. At the cinema, there is always someone who has a very distinctive laugh, which everybody else finds infectious: that’s a beautiful thing. When I was studying film, a friend of mine always accompanied me to the Film Library screenings, and once, while we were watching The Navigator by Buster Keaton, he fell to the floor, flailing around, in fits of laughter: people stood up, stopped looking at the screen and stared at him instead.

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Because cinema is still a kind of ceremony, in a way…
That aspect is petering out, because you can watch Cries and Whispers at home, but if one night you watch a comedy, just you on your own, that’s rather sad: you have to share it with others. We’re all like autistic people, staring at our mobile phones and computer screens: none of us can stop ourselves.

When you came to write the screenplay for The Queen of Spain, did you think about catering for every single generation of viewer?
I don’t plan that side of things: I concentrate more on telling a beautiful and entertaining story. In this film, perhaps I’ve included things that not everyone will understand, but it doesn’t matter – they have to be in there because they form part of the era it portrays, even to the extent of using expressions from the 1950s that you don’t hear any more. Movies have to be informative, and not just entertaining. You have to learn something from them, too; that’s the fantastic thing about film.

But… does humour get old?
I think there are types of humour that stand the test of time, and others that get old. If you watch a comedy by the Marx brothers, Groucho has withstood the passing of time, but Harpo hasn’t: today you have rather an artificial liking for him, but Groucho breaks the rules so much – he’s so modern and off the wall that he could withstand anything you throw at him. Because clowns and buffoons have got very old, even for today’s kids.

In The Queen of Spain, you address the history of Spain, specifically that of the 20th century, including thorny topics such as the Valle de los Caídos (a monument erected by Franco to honour those who fought for him in the Spanish Civil War).
Within the sphere of comedy, I try to be educational and recount things: that field of work suited me very well in terms of the story and one character; I didn’t put it in the script for ideological reasons, but rather narrative ones. The action of taking him there had enormous potential – taking him to a place where an accident could befall him, like what happened to Mr Magoo.

Is your film a tribute to comedians?
It’s about a group and their relationships and friendships – and, of course, it incorporates love for film and its people. Two of my favourite movies about film-within-film are Day for Night, where they’re shooting an insignificant movie, and Ed Wood, about the worst director ever, who made terrible films, but they both depict love for one’s profession: the lead character in Tim Burton’s movie is a dreamer. In mine, they are shooting one of those pseudo-historical films that I don’t like.

(Translated from Spanish)

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