Rafael Azcona leaves this ‘Belle Epoque’

Article published on April 3, 2008
community published
Article published on April 3, 2008
 The best screenplayer in Spanish cinema of all time decided to go on strike this week in Madrid forever. With 95 screenplays under his belt, he probably died of one last laughing fit, the likes of which many of us have enjoyed thanks to his genius dialogues. After a battle with lung cancer, he leaves us as he was always in the habit of doing, with stealth and grandeur.

The 81-year-old also leaves us with some of the most memorable stories from Spanish and European cinema. It would be boring to list his collaborations with some of the best Spanish directors such as or , and also with some of the worst, like and the Catalan . It would also be lame to speak about the movies that he made outside of Spain, especially with Italian director , for whom he wrote many great sequences of black humour. Jose Luis Berlanga Fernando TruebaCarlos Saura Bigas ‘Tits’ Luna Marco Ferreri

They say that Azcona really represented traditional Spain, his sense of humour being so realist that it became surreal, like this country of madmen. What they don’t say though is that in all that writing about Spain, Spain ended up resembling scripts.his

 It’s not funny

But still, it’s no fun to talk about this; it’s not what the former novelist from Logroño in northern Spain would have wanted. He was the one who was always sat at the back of the class so that he wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention. He was the student who would whip out a joke to a select few of the school friends sitting around him, making sure he generally went unnoticed. And sitting at the back in church inspired his catholic-bashing in his screenplays, especially (ironically) during the period that Franco was dictator. It’s surprising to appreciate how his ecclesiastic critics managed to escape Franco’s censorship. To top it all off he left us with a Sunday of resurrection. What a bastard, sardonic until his last breath. Unsurpassable. At the end of his career, Azcona achieved a recognition which he never flaunted, instead accepting it without a hoo-hah. He won five Goyas and his story of romantic liasions and various capers in the young - starring earned him an Oscar for ‘best foreign film’ in 1993. Without realising it, he excelled in being a screenwriter, which has become so mechanised today in being subject to the demands of the market. Penélope Cruz ”Belle Epoque

A real comedian leaves us behind. He was the last independent artist who laughed at life until his last day, until the last tears, until the last scene of his film. Translation: Nabeelah Shabbir