Erice, Víctor


Erice, Víctor
b. 1940, San Sebastián
   Filmmaker and scriptwriter
   Erice is one of the most respected auteurs in Spanish cinema despite the sparseness of his productions: three films in twenty years. His cinema is characterized by a poetic, introspective quality and formal accomplishment, though at times it may suffer from a certain hermeticism. Initially associated with the producer Elías Querejeta, his subsequent career has followed a distinctively individual trajectory. A wellinformed film critic, co-founder of the leftist magazine Nuestro Cine and a collaborator in Cuadernos de Arte y Pensamiento (Studies in Art and Thought), Erice has also co-written a book on Nicholas Ray and adapted a series of Jorge Luis Borges" stories for television, as well as working in television advertising. His films are criss-crossed with cinematic as well as literary references. His full-length début, El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive) (1973) was a box-office success acclaimed by audiences and critics alike: it was the first Spanish film to win the Golden Shell at the San Sebastián Film Festival. Set in a small Castilian village in 1940, it is the story of a young girl literally mesmerized by the image of Frankenstein's monster, after seeing James Whale's 1932 classic in the cinema. The film is not only a powerful evocation of childhood and a reflection on the compelling make-believe power of cinema, but also by capturing the desolate mood of the post-war era in its gloomy atmosphere and pervasive silence, it becomes an understated indictment of Franco's oppressive regime. Evasion and family dynamics are further explored in El Sur (The South) (1983), whose release was surrounded by expectation and controversy since part of the original script was left unshot due to production pressures. In a long flashback, an adolescent girl recounts the events from the arrival of her family in a provincial town of northern Spain in the late 1940s to her father's suicide in 1957. The film, superbly photographed, explores the psychological processes in the relation between father and daughter.
   El sol del membrillo (The Quince Tree Sun) (1992) is a departure from the feminine voice of the previous two films. In an experimental mixture of documentary and fiction we witness the reallife contemporary painter Antonio López at work trying to capture in his canvas the fleeting splendour of a quince tree planted in his backyard. An essay on the nature of representation and artistic endeavour, the film is also concerned with the themes of communication, urban environment and its audiovisual landscape.
   See also: arte y ensayo; film and cinema; Francoist culture
   Further reading
   - Evans, P. and Fiddian, R. (1987) "Víctor Erice's El Sur: A Narrative of Star Cross'd Lovers", Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 64: 127–35 (an interesting discussion of the role of ideology in the film in the light of melodrama conventions).
   - Kinder, M. (1983) "The Children of Franco in the New Spanish Cinema", Quarterly Review of Film Studies 8, 2: 57–76 (an examination of the symbolism of children in film narratives of the period with special reference to El espíritu de la colmena).
   - de Ros, X. (1995) "Víctor Erice's "voluntad de estilo" in El espíritu de la colmena", Forum for Modern Languages Studies, 23,1: 74–83 (a study of the film's relation to contemporary cinema traditions).
   - Smith, P.J. (1993) "Víctor Erice Painting the Sun: Whispers and Rapture", Sight and Sound, April issue, 26–9 (a brief but illuminating essay on politics and art in the films of Erice, preceded by an interview with the filmmaker by Rikki Morgan).
   XON DE ROS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Erice, Víctor — (1940 )    With only three features to his name, the last released in 1992, Erice remains one of the key personalities of Spanish cinema. His work is widely discussed in Spanish academic circles, and he is a well known personality even in the… …   Guide to cinema

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