Marsé and the world of cinema


In an interview for
Barcelona Mediterranean Metropolis
Juan Marsé, caustic as was his custom, related to me the language that the films represented for the children of our generations: “We had a very direct way of calling it: the scary films, the laughter films, the love films, the war films… Adventure movies could be subdivided into gangster movies and western movies. There were, of course, the adventure movies in the jungle, a section that included everything from Tarzan, but also scout movies. All this we had very clear ”.

For those generations, neighborhood cinemas (normally showing two feature films, a comic short and –of course– the relevant node, you know: “The world within the reach of all Spaniards”) were the most outstanding part of the geography of their Barcelona neighborhood. The itinerary of the cinemas was only ever violated and Marsé used to do it to go to the Capitol de la Rambla, known as Can Pistoles.

His film school was the double program rooms such as the Rovira, the Delicias, the Forest, the World Cup, the Projections, the Selecto or the Roxy

But the place that was closest to his home was Rovira, in Plaza Rovira. Next, the Delights, and then there were the Forest, the Projections, the World Cup, the Roxy or the Select. Roxy would inspire the story

The ghosts of the Roxy

, which in 1987 Serrat transformed into an unforgettable song.

The truth is that the relationship between Marsé and cinema fluctuated between love and hate, except of course the great classics of the history of cinema that he idolized. But he always hated, at least apparently, the film adaptations of his books. The now disappeared Vicente Aranda took his novels to the cinema

The Girl in the Golden Panties
(with Victoria Abril, 1980),

If they tell you that I fell
(with Victoria Abril, Jorge Sanz and Antonio Banderas, 1989) and

The bilingual lover
(with Imanol Arias and Ornella Muti, 1993).

Victoria Abril starred in ‘The Girl in the Golden Panties’, directed by Vicente Aranda (Archive)

The filmmaker once declared The vanguard: “My relationship with dead authors has been excellent, but bad with living authors. I am referring to Marsé, who, at least, has been sincere and has personally reproached me for my lack of poetry and tenderness when adapting it. He once said it to a mutual friend, the dear José Luis Guarner, who asked Marsé, with his usual and amusing sarcasm: ‘But, Juan, have you read your novel?’ ”

Filmmakers Vicente Aranda, Jaime Camino and Jordi Cadena adapted their books

True as we have said to classic cinema, when asked in another meeting about the great myths and beauties that had paraded on the screen, Marilyn Monroe, he replied: “He caught me at an age when you no longer put candles on the altar for a lady.” Marsé also collaborated on the script for

The long winter

, directed in 1992 by Jaime Camino, with Vittorio Gassman and Jean Rochefort. Camino had already filmed in 1973

My private teacher

, with a script by Marsé in collaboration with Gil de Biedma. The protagonists were Serrat and Analía Gadé.

Let us remember lastly that his novel

Cousin Montse’s dark story
It was taken to the cinema in 1977 by Jordi Cadena, starring Ana Belén, with Ovidi Montllor and Xabier Elorriaga. Marsé loved the cinema, but not the one they made with their texts.

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