Sunday, April 07, 2013

EL PAIS. CULTURE. Bigas Luna, a creator of complicities. Andrés Vicente Gómez.


I have become an orphan today. The death of Bigas Luna is a tremendous blow to me, personally and professionally. He was the director I always had in mind for whatever new projects I wanted to tackle. Since 1989, when -following Luis García Berlanga's recommendation- I got together with Bigas Luna to produce Las edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu), we have always had a fruitful and endlessly amusing relationship. He was a kind revolutionary, a genuine inventor, a transgressor, though also a man of impeccable intellectual honesty.

He was a true discoverer of talented actors such as Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà, Verónica Echegui and Ariadna Gil, who have gone on to rediscover themselves and accomplishing things they would never have felt capable of without the guidance of Bigas. Other actors like Angel Jové, María Martín, Isabel Pisano and Ángela Molina were resuscitated as artists in his films. His filming sessions were joyful and generally included the intake of olive oil, ham and garlic by all of us, which naturally made us very happy. He was a creator of complicities and always got the whole team involved in them.

WithThe Ages of Lulu,we had a very gratifying experience although it was full of shake ups and downs. We needed two actresses to play the same character at the age of 16 then again at the age of 30. Despite the fact that our choice for the role was Penélope Cruz, we ended up casting the youngest and eldest Molina sisters. However, several days after the filming began, they both walked off the set, forcing us to find substitutes. In the process, we discovered a great future star though: Francesca Neri.

The film was a huge box office success in Spain and abroad. This enabled us to take on projects that involved more creative risk, like the "Iberian Trilogy," as Bigas used to call the three films we were working on:Jamón Jamón(Ham, Ham),Huevos de oro(Golden Balls) andLateta y la luna(The Tit and the Moon). These three movies earned him widespread acknowledgement as a great European director, winning prizes in Venice, Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals. They were widely distributed throughout the world and enabled him to work directly with Italian and French producers. Then, subsequently, in 2001, he worked with me to filmSon de Mar(Sound of the Sea), based on Manuel Vicent's novel and Rafael Azcona's film script. It was a jubilant tribute, an enthusiastic homage to Mediterranean flesh, flavors and sex.

Bigas Luna was a modern Renaissance man, an expert at living a good life, generous in sharing it with friends and family. Being with him was always a surprise and a permanent experiment. He was unpredictable; he could just as easily hang a necklace made of ants around your neck, show you the sacred part of the earth and its foodstuffs, or sing you a song from Naples. At all times cheerful, always celebrating life.

Over the last years, although we only made five films together, at least another five were pending. I'd like to think that we will see each other and team up in another life. As for this one, we will continue to miss him and love him; all of us, his friends and his extraordinary family, his wife Consol, Celia and her daughters. With all of them, I share the grief of his loss.

Best wishes.

Andrés Vicente Gómez producedLas edades de Lulú, Jamón Jamón, Huevos de Oro, La teta y la lunaandSon de Mar.