- Miró, Pilar
- (1940-1997)Besides being an accomplished, intensely original director, Pilar Miró was a key figure in cultural circles during the Spanish Transition. Born into a military family, she studied law at university before starting work as a journalist and completing a degree as scriptwriter at the Escuela Oficial de Cine. Her early career as a filmmaker took place in Spanish Television during the 1960s. She worked in a series of dramatic specials, as well as in documentaries and news features. In 1976, she became a member of the Socialist Party, which would determine her central role in film policies during the following decade.Her first assignment as film director was La petición (The Request, 1976). Some of the concerns that will become typical of her later career are already seen here: this was the story of an independent woman who experienced a conflict between emotional and professional life. Her exploration of variations on this theme through a series of films makes Pilar Miró a true auteur, one who uses film to articulate individual experience. Examples of these thematically linked narratives are Gary Cooper que estás en los cielos (Gary Cooper Who Art in Heaven, 1980), Hablamos esta noche (Tonight We Talk, 1982), Werther (1986), and El pájaro de la felicidad (The Bird of Happiness, 1993).El crimen de Cuenca (Cuenca Murder), her second feature, was shot in 1979 and became notorious as a cause célèbre, as it was banned for presumed slurs to the Civil Guard, a police body associated with Francoism. The film itself told the story of a miscarriage of justice in the 1910s: a young man disappeared in Osa de la Vega, Cuenca, and two friends were put on trial and tortured; a few years later, the man reappeared thus illuminating the vested interests that had led to the convictions. After a virulent polemic on radio and in the press, it was finally released in 1981 and became one of the biggest box-office hits in Spanish cinema.In 1982, Miró worked in the electoral campaign that would lead the Socialists to power for the next 14 years, and in the same year, she was appointed General Director of Cinema. She was responsible for the piece of legislation known as the Ley Miró. The gist of her reform was to devise a funding scheme that would encourage more quality films, to the detriment of a big turnout of titles, canceling the "S" classification for soft porn, and supporting film through advances and the need for cinemas to exhibit a certain minimum of Spanish films. In real terms, it gave guidelines for funding that paved the way for a wave of literary adaptations or quality projects with a Civil War background. Like most attempts at resolving the crisis of Spanish cinema, this was very controversial (she was accused of legislating from an exclusively director-producer perspective), and she resigned the post in 1985. The following year, she became general director of Televisión Española, and was responsible for reforms there that would lead to more collaboration between the film industry and television. Still, her authority was constantly questioned and once again she resigned under pressure in 1989, after having set up a substantial scheme for cooperation between television and the Spanish film industry.After a long break, she returned to film in the 1990s. Her next effort, Beltenebros / Prince of Shadows (1991), a co-production based on a popular novel by Antonio Muñoz Molina, took her in a different direction: although history and its effects on people are prominent in the story, this was basically a thriller with an international cast headed by Terence Stamp and Patsy Kensit. El pájaro de la felicidad (The Bird of Happiness, 1993) was among her most accomplished projects. A mother played by Mercedes Sampietro (her favorite actress and something of an alter ego in Gary Cooper que estás en los cielos), at a crucial point of her life, moves to a house by the sea in order to be alone, but is interrupted by the sudden arrival of its owner, a professor played by José Sacristán. The film is unusual in focusing on a woman's experience, and carefully avoids narrative clichés.Tu nombre envenena mis sueños (Your Name Poisons My Dreams, 1996), her following project, was practically ignored by critics and audiences, but El perro del hortelano (The Dog in the Manger, 1996), an adaptation of a Golden Age play by Lope de Vega was seen as a new departure and a return to form: it combined classical rigor with some elements of Hollywood screwball comedy. She had projected a trilogy of classic plays, but died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1997.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.