Continuing in my endeavour to devote February to my blog readers, a film that was not just recommended to me by a reader, but actually gifted. Bawa, who was one of the first people to encourage me to watch and review international cinema on this blog, gave me an English-subtitled DVD of this classic Spanish film a couple of years ago. I’ve been meaning to see it ever since, and finally got around to watching it this week.
La Tía Tula (‘Aunt Tula’) is one of those films where not very much actually happens in the way of story. Or, rather, the story rests not so much on a series of events, but on a slow, subtle progression (which, by contrast, makes the handful of important events in the plot even more dramatic than they would otherwise have been).
The past year has been a rather tragic one when it comes to classic cinema: Jean Simmons died in January; Lena Horne passed on in May, and then, just a little over a month back, Tony Curtis died. And, about a week ago, I got an e-mail from blog reader and friend Bawa to say that Spanish director Luis García Berlanga had died. Berlanga, the audacious film maker about whom Franco is supposed to have said, “Berlanga is not a Communist; he is worse than a Communist, he is a bad Spaniard.” Berlanga, creator of the superb Bienvenido, Mister Marshall!, which Bawa gave to me and helped spark off an enthusiasm for the work of this immensely talented film maker. Berlanga, who with this film derided capital punishment and made himself so unpopular with the Spanish government that they tried to stop the screening of El Verdugo at the Venice Film Festival… RIP.
A while back, a discussion on one of my posts meandered its way into films that weren’t English or Hindi—basically, films I don’t generally watch, mainly because they’re difficult to get hold of. One of my readers, Bawa, mentioned Spanish cinema of the 50’s and 60’s, even taking the trouble of listing some of the classics. And as if that wasn’t generous enough, she went to the extent of searching high and low in Bilbao to find some of these films, with English subtitles, for me. She eventually found one, Beinvenido, Mister Marshall! (Welcome, Mister Marshall!) and gifted it to me while on a trip to India. I was, obviously, very grateful.
Having watched the film—an unforgettably heart-warming and funny take on rural Spain in the mid 20th century—I’m feeling even more blessed that I have readers such as this. Thank you, Bawa.