The Cantabrian, director of ‘Los santos inocentes’ and ‘La colmena’, has died at the age of 86 after a long illness
The Cantabrian filmmaker Mario Camus, director of ‘Los santos iniocentes’, has died in Santander at the age of 86 after a long illness. After some thirty films and innumerable creations as a screenwriter and productions for television, he leaves one of the most solid traces of Spanish cinema of the last half-century. Without the actors we are nobody. Nobody can reflect on this job without thinking about the actors. «The panorama is not very pleasant. We have to stop them from destroying our cinema. But spring will come and we will see things differently. Let’s tell our stories and do it sincerely. This law is always expected to put an order in such a difficult situation so that it does not become so complicated to do this work. These words preside over his speech upon receiving the Goya of Honor in 2011.
With Chekhov in the background, he dreamed of continuing to roll affections and writing stories that his privileged memory kept like an always burning bonfire. The true landscape of the filmmaker of ‘The Holy Innocents’ resided in the human condition. Mario Camus (Santander 1935-2021), great actor-director, notary of human geographies, and traveler of literary universes leaves a journey of visual and written stories that span more than half a century of Spanish cinema history. Prolific screenwriter, from ‘The bird of happiness’ to ‘Roma’, short story writer, ‘secret narrator’ as defined by ‘Cuadernos Hispanoamercianos’, in the forging of this storyteller, writer before the director, the best material has been cast of the Spanish literary jewels until they are transformed into tamed cinematographic language.
The filmmaker of ‘Los santos inocentes’ died yesterday at his home in El Sardinero where he spent his last years. Although he tried several times, his desire to continue making films failed to translate on the screen. ‘El prado de las estrellas’ from 2007, shot in his land, signed a filmography that began in the sixties with ‘Los Farsantes’ and ‘Young Sánchez’.
A journey of craftsman and professional, of talent and passion since, together with Carlos Saura and Daniel Sueiro, he wrote the story that gave rise to ‘Los golfos’, a film that participated in Cannes in 1959 and is considered the inaugural torch of the New Spanish Cinema. The involuntary protagonist of institutional events, he declared himself estranged from the Academy, distanced from a system that seems to reward failure, that prevents veterans from making films, that supports the “nonsense” of dubbing and that is defenseless against “abuse” of the best.
He never hid his discontent with the system and his skepticism, or his anger at politicians who often boast about not going to the movies. Annoyed by the indifference, silence, or oblivion, including the one that hampered his project for a new film, he maintained his criticism of all governments that “overprotect” North American cinema instead of Spanish.
He mixed affections, uncertainties, and an uncomplacent look that seeks the man. In more than thirty creations he intertwined a cinema close to feelings, framed today, a reflection of the time in which we live. Always with the aim of communicating a compelling, moving, and credible story. His frustrated project ‘Histories of the Bay’ could be the testamentary link between Santander and the filmmaker.
From the beginning, he achieved a relevant professional status within the film industry and embarked on a career with a wide filmography practically without comparison with other members of his generation. His own stories, commissions, literary adaptations, very personal stories make up his directorial itinerary. But Camus traces a parallel creative path no less important and intense: the creation of original scripts, the writing of adapted scripts, the direction of television series, the making of television documentaries, and the dubbing of films. His career, coherent and clear, with shootings with a great economy of means, between professionalism and craftsmanship, supported by very loyal names and teams, oscillates among internationally recognized works, initialed with awards at festivals, of ‘
In his professional work, marked by agile and solvent filming, commercial commissions from outside the world of the filmmaker succeed and alternate, such as ‘When you are not there’ or ‘At sunset’ or ‘that woman’ and commissioned productions but assumed as their own as ‘The legend of Mayor Zalamea’.