The Early Comedies of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

  • Diane E. Marting
Part of the New Directions in Latino American Cultures book series (NDLAC)

Abstract

When Tomás Gutiérrez Alea1 began his filmmaking career, he alternated between serious, usually short, documentaries and hilarious, full-length fiction for the screen. Later, as he became more successful, acquired more resources, and articulated more clearly to himself and others his goals as a committed artist, Titón (as his friends called him) preferred to place within each of his films a dialectic of reality and entertainment. In his lifetime, he directed many important comedies, all of which display this back and forth between Brechtian distance and Chaplinesque empathy. His full-length comedies also fall into two groups. First came three black-and-white comic masterworks that combine hilarity and satire (Las doce sillas [1962; The Twelve Chairs], La muerte de un burócrata [1966; Death of a Bureaucrat], and Los sobrevivientes [1978; The Survivors]). The second group, filmed in color, exhibits irony attenuated by romance, and encompasses Hasta cierto punto (1983; Up to a Certain Point), Cartas del parque (1989; Letters from the Park), the short Contigo en la distancia (1991; Far Away), Fresa y chocolate (1994; Strawberry and Chocolate), and Guantanamera (1995; in English under the same title). His most important comedy would have to be Fresa y chocolate, an international success, only second in fame and importance to his serious, classic masterpiece, Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968; Memories of Underdevelopment).

Keywords

Arena Dial Rutina Como Metaphor 

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© Diane E. Marting 2016

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