Regueiro, Francisco


Regueiro, Francisco
(1934- )
   Francisco Regueiro's early career is representative of the stifling situation filmmakers with artistic ambition and an independent outlook went through during the latter part of the Franco period. After studying direction at the Escuela Oficial de Cine, he soon came into contact with nuevo cine español filmmakers like Mario Camus or Antxón Eceiza, with whom he would co-write a few years later De cuerpo presente (In the Presence of the Body, 1967). After graduating, he went on to direct his own feature El buen amor (The Good Love, 1963), produced by Elias Querejeta, which, typically for a characteristic Nuevo cine español project, met with release and distribution obstacles. His unusual approaches were not "commercial" enough (in the 1960s only pop musicals and comedia desarrollista were generally considered "popular"), and such individual projects seldom found their way into screens in the 1960s and early 1970s.
   Finally, some of his ambitious and obscure films that evidenced a playful outlook, like the intellectual Si volvemos a vernos (If We Meet Again, 1968), the almost experimental Me enveneno de azules (I Get Poisoned with Blues, 1971), Carta de amor de un asesino (Love Letter From a Murderer, 1972), and the surrealistic and very funny Duerme, duerme mi amor (Sleep, Sleep, My Love, 1975), were such disappointments at the box office that by 1975 he decided to leave the film industry.
   The new legislative situation that developed during Pilar Miró's period at the Dirección General de Cinematografía supported quality Spanish films that engaged imaginatively with history, and Regueiro was inspired to attempt new projects. The three original films he completed between 1985 and 1995 are among the most complex, literate, and imaginative of the period. They share a common thread on betraying or absent fathers, and all were co-scripted with established novelist Ángel Fernández Santos. Padre Nuestro (Our Father, 1985) is an excellent example of his talent with a distinctively Bunuelian flavor in the casting of Fernando Rey and in its religious-blasphemous resonances. It tells the story of a Vatican cardinal who comes back to visit his brother (played by Francisco Rabal) and acknowledge his long-lost prostitute daughter before he dies. Diario de Invierno (Winter Journal, 1988), again with Rey, centers around a reunion between a father and son years after the son tried to kill his father; it is a hermetic, multithreaded story with lost, trapped characters. As in his other titles of the period, the theme of settling accounts with the past is central to the understanding of Regueiro's intentions.
   Madregilda (Mother Gilda, 1993), his last film, is also his most accomplished work: dark, playful, and heartfelt, it contains a far-reaching reflection on Spanish history. One narrative thread introduces Francisco Franco as a wimp with oedipal issues, who plays cards with his Civil War comrades. In the film, he dies in the early 1950s and is replaced by a double. A second storyline introduces a boy who is fascinated and sexually aroused by Rita Hayworth's Gilda on the screen and comes to identify her incestuously with his real mother, who is involved in a convoluted story of espionage during Francoism. The film resorted to deeply Hispanic cultural traditions (again Buñuel and black humor, but also Goya and Valle Inclán) to give a deeply troubling vision of the past as a poisoned inheritance.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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