Spanish film director Berlanga dies aged 89

13th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of the giants of Spanish cinema, director Luis Garcia Berlanga, died at the age of 89 at his home outside Madrid Saturday, Spain's film academy announced.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero paid tribute to the director, who had battled Alzheimer's, calling him "one of the great film-makers of Spanish culture" whose "provocative, ironic and lucid style is already part of our vocabulary."

"It's an enormous loss of Spanish cinema and for all of Spanish culture," Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez Sinde said on RNE public radio.

"The work of Luis Garcia Berlanga remains the same as that of any other past master of literature, painting or music of this country," she said of Berlanga, who was considered a "classic" of Spanish cinema and won several prestigious awards during his career.

Born in 1921 in Valencia, Berlanga began his career under Francisco Franco's right-wing dictatorship.

His best known work, the 1952 satirical comedy "Welcome Mr. Marshall!" ("Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!") explores a Spain of the 1950s waiting in vain for the United States to bring it democracy and development.

"With Luis Garcia Berlanga dies a style, a voice, the vision of a country, a culture and a philosophy on the human race," El Pais newspaper wrote in its online edition.

It called him "the commentator and the conscience, good and bad, of a country tarnished by the trauma of the (civil) war".

He will be buried on Sunday at the cemetery of Pozuelo, the Madrid suburb where he lived.

© 2010 AFP

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