The 38th Moscow Film Festival prize “For an Outstanding Contribution to the World Cinema” is awarded to Spanish film director Carlos Saura
Carlos Saura has always been longing for a perfect form. Indeed, the form itself is the best content, and Saura, who grew up in an artistic family with his mother a musician and brother an artist, seems to have been striving to find the magic formula. At first he was cautious, like a child who for the first time tries a bitter medication. Saura was looking for an ideal in photography – but despite all its dynamics, it lacked the plasticity of movement the future director needed. So Saura turned to cinema. From photographically accurate black-and-white geometry of Luis Cuadrado’s cinematography in “The Hunt” (1966) he moved on to surrealist expression, albeit still in watercolor sketches, of “Ana and the Wolves” (1973), “Cousin Angèlica” (1974) and “Raise Ravens” (1975). In these movies Saura cautiously started developing the fourth dimension – time, substituting the present for the past, usually already pregnant with the future too.
In “Carmen” (1983) Saura for the first time sends his characters through the mirror labyrinth of the dance passion, while music connected the characters’ story to the eternal – and usually fatal – confrontation of the Male and the Female. It is there that Saura found the two staples of his cinematic inventory: music and dance.
At some point Saura started carefully adding a new color to his palette: humor. In his first comedy “Mama turns 100” he returned to the family he depicted in “Ana and the Wolves”, this time showing it through the comic, almost absurdist lens. In 1990 “Ay, Carmela!” he for the first time starts tackling with humor one of the most painful topics for him, that of the Spanish Civil War. Music and dance accompany the general bittersweet intonation of the film, heralding their forthcoming transition to the foreground in Saura's cinema – in the so-called “Flamenco” trilogy, continued by the films “Flamenco” (1995), “Tango” (1998) and “Fados” (2007). At some point music becomes Saura’s main character, and it only seems logical that it began to occupy the entire film space, that melody replaced composition, and instead of director there was now heartrending song of love and suffer at the wheel.
His recent documentaries “Flamenco, Flamenco” (2010) and “Argentina” (2015) once again complete the full circle of Saura’s intimate relationships with music: the director seems to minimize his presence and totally eliminate the plot, each time moving to the foreground about two dozens of folklore performers, who suddenly seem to lose their personality, turning instead in almost universal abstract figures. It’s very tempting to say these movies reflect the history of different countries through their national songs, to the sound of which people have loved, waged wars and died for years. But the more complex the films’ composition, the more obvious it becomes the songs are absolutely self-sufficient. The thing is, Saura has finally found the magical formula: never to mute the song, albeit his own or someone else’s.
The special retrospective "Carlos Saura in Music" in the official program of the 38th Moscow International Film Festival