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Death of “El Resistente”


- Juan Antonio Bardem dies in Madrid at the age of 80. He was one of Spanish cinema’s most representative and courageous filmmakers of the Fifties

Death of “El Resistente”

Juan Antonio Bardem died yesterday evening in Madrid at the age of 80. He was one of Spanish cinema’s most representative filmmakers during the Fifties. His skill as an innovator in cinema, revealed in the films he made that focused on the social, political and cultural content, as well as the courage he showed in criticising General Franco’s regime earned him the nickname of “El Resistente del cine espagnol”.

He was inspired and influenced by post-war Italian directors like Antonioni and Fellini and his The Egoists (1955) and one of his masterpieces, Calle Mayor (1956) was inspired by Fellini’s Vitelloni. Bardem was an acute observer of Spanish reactionary society and pulled no punches in criticising General Franco. He paid for this by having much of his work either blocked or censored.
Comicos (1954) is one of his most memorable takes on society and Five in the Afternoon (1960) is a wonderful film about bullfighting. In all Bardem made 24 films and the titles include La vendetta (1957), Aventuras del marquès de Bradomin (1959), Pianos mecanicos (1965), starring Melina Mercouri, L'altra casa ai margini del bosco (1972) and Isla misteriosa y el capitàn Nemo (1973), starring Omar Sharif
. During the seventies Bardem made a docu-feature about falangist terrorism entitled Seven Days in January. In 1987 Spanish television commissioned him to direct Lorca, Death of a Poet that was subsequently seen in 20 countries. In 1993 he directed a documentary for American television entitled Young Picasso.
Juan Antonio Bardem wrote the screenplay of many of his own and other people’s films, both Spanish and non. Early on in his career he was an actor and his most memorable role was in John Berry’s The Great Seducer (1956) where he co-starred with two contemporary superstars like Fernandel and Fernando Rey.

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