MADRID – Spanish filmmaker Luis Garcia Berlanga, best known for a trio of social and political satires in the 1950s and 1960s, died Saturday morning at his home in this capital, his family said. He was 89.
Berlanga, whose 1952 film “¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!” (Welcome Mr. Marshall), as well as “Placido” and “El verdugo” (Not On Your Life), released in 1961 and 1963, respectively, are considered among the masterpieces of Spanish cinema, was born in Valencia on June 12, 1921, into a middle-class family.
“¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!” was a prize-winner at the Cannes Film Festival, while “Placido” received an Oscar nomination and “El verdugo” garnered awards at the Venice Film Festival.
According to a spokesman for the family, Garcia Berlanga died “at peace” and the funeral chapel with his mortal remains will be installed at Spain’s Cinema Academy.
A movie director and academic, Garcia Berlanga was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts in 1986.
In awarding him that honor, the jury referred to him as “one of the great creators of cinema of our times, who undertakes throughout his work, with exemplary independence, a critical but good-natured analysis of Spanish society.”
The director was quoted at that time saying that, despite his determination to be a filmmaker, he always longed to remain anonymous.
“I thought I would manage to invent some chemical formula to (go unnoticed). I saw it as an heroic act: to disappear, lose all one’s marks of identity, the slightest day to day protagonism, so that nobody could talk to you and, on the other hand, to be able to get in anywhere, to permanently enjoy the show.”
He had been retired since 2000 and his last public appearance was in May to inaugurate a theater bearing his name.
Garcia Berlanga, who won Spain’s National Cinema Prize in 1981 and the Fine Arts Gold Medal in 1983, represented Spain at the Oscars on more than one occasion, including in the early 1980s with “Patrimonio nacional” (National Heritage).
Other films he directed include the 1985 Spanish Civil War comedy “La vaquilla” (The Heifer), the 1987 film “Moros y cristianos” and the 1993 film “Todos a la carcel” (Everyone to Jail).
His last release was the 1999 film “Paris-Tombuctu.”