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Working with Buñuel: the daily routine

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Working in Spain
Jean-Claude Carrière Film-maker
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I was in Spain for over 20 years, very often with Luis in different places. We were working either in Spain or in Mexico, and as each screenplay had several versions, we were writing one in Spain, and another in Mexico, or two and two... in different places in Spain. We went to the Sierra Granada - his last film was shot in Seville - a city he didn't know at all as he didn't know Spain very well. He had spent most of his life in Mexico. And we worked in Spain, I think because he liked to come back there, and since he had a Mexican passport he could travel under Franco and see his family, friends and the places called entreniables as Spaniards say, places that are dear to your heart, where you like to be... in Spain and in Mexico as well. We worked very little in France. We worked in French but lived in Spain, and that's how I learnt Spanish, little by little, without realising it, speaking to his friends... in Spain, Buñuel helped me discover people like José Bergamin from the previous generation, but also much younger film-makers. He was the first who… the first time I arrived in '63, two weeks later, he took me to watch a film directed by Carlos Saura, who at the time was a very young film-maker, a film called La Chasse, and he organised a private viewing, just for me, and he sat next to me, and as I didn't know any Spanish at the time, he translated all of the dialogue into my ear. When I told Carlos Saura about this much later, he was very moved that Buñuel had done this with his film. Obviously, it was very moving.

J’étais en Espagne pendant 20 ans, très souvent, avec Luis dans différents endroits. Nous travaillions toujours soit en Espagne, soit au Mexique et comme chaque scénario avait plusieurs versions, on en faisait en générale une en Espagne et une au Mexique, ou deux et deux… dans différents endroits de l’Espagne. On a été dans le Sierra de Granada, son dernier film il l’a tourné en partie à Séville,  qui est une ville qu’il ne connaissait pas car il ne connaissait pas très bien l’Espagne. Il avait passé une grande partie de sa vie au Mexique. Et on travaillait, je pense, en Espagne parce qu’il aimait y revenir, ayant un passeport mexicain il pouvait y revenir sous Franco et ainsi voir sa famille ses amis et les lieux «entraniables» comment dit en Espagnol, les lieux dont on garde un bon souvenir, dont on garde un souvenir plus qu‘agréable, où on a aimé vivre… en Espagne et au Mexique également. On a très, très peu travaillé en France. On travaillait en français et on vivait en Espagne et c’est ainsi que j’ai appris l’espagnol peu à peu presque sans m’en rendre compte en parlant avec ses amis… Buñuel en Espagne m’a fait découvrir des gens plus âgés que lui comme José Bergamin une génération qui le précédait, et aussi de jeunes cinéastes. C’est lui qui m’a… la première fois quand je suis arrivé en 63, deux semaines après, m’a amené voir un film de Carlos Saura, qui était à l’époque un très jeune cinéaste, qui s’appelle La Chasse, il a organisé pour moi seul, une projection privée, il était assis à coté de moi comme je ne connaissais pas l’espagnol à l’époque il me traduisait dans l’oreille les dialogues. Quand j’ai dit ça à Carlos Saura plus tard il était très ému que Buñuel avait fait ça avec son film, évidemment c’est très touchant.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière began his association with films aged 24 when he was selected by Jacques Tati to write for him. This early experience led to further contact with other film-makers, including Luis Buñuel with whom Carrière collaborated for many years. He has written screenplays for films including 'Belle de Jour', 'The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie', 'Tin Drum' and 'Danton'.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Spain, Mexico, France, La Chasse, Luis Buñuel, Carlos Saura

Duration: 1 minute, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2010

Date story went live: 27 July 2010