From the start of his career, in the 1950s, writer-director Luis García Berlanga took aim at the strictures of Franco-era censorship with his radical black comedies. Though lesser known than his renegade compatriot Luis Buñuel, Berlanga was instrumental in modernizing the identity of Spanish cinema in the aftermath of the civil war and has remained a guiding light for many of the nation’s contemporary filmmakers. Among his most ardent devotees is the great Pedro Almodóvar, who began his career in the free-spirited atmosphere of the post-Franco era but whose work bears the influence of the irreverent masters who came before him.
This week, we’re pleased to welcome Berlanga into the collection with our edition of The Executioner, a caustic 1963 farce about a young undertaker who marries an executioner’s daughter and reluctantly inherits her father’s macabre profession. In the below clip, excerpted from a program on our release, Almodóvar reflects on Berlanga’s status as one of the titans of Spanish cinema and the director’s undeserved obscurity abroad.