Olea, Pedro

Olea, Pedro
(1938- )
   Pedro Olea was born in Bilbao, in the Basque Country. He interrupted his degree in economics to study film in the Escuela Oficial de Cine (EOC). His first engagements as director were theater adaptations for Spanish Television, and this love for literary works dominated the early part of his career. After Días de viejo color (Days of an Old Color, 1967), which received an award for best new director, he became established with El bosque del lobo (The Forest of the Wolf, 1971), a film with a little-known literary source about an epileptic peasant who carried out a series of gruesome murders in the heart of the forest, possibly influenced by legends about werewolves. Partly rural drama, partly horror story, the film succeeded in creating a very specific world in which superstition and truth collided. The film shows Olea's passion for storytelling coupled with a muted interest for expression in terms of original camerawork. Also, like most of his films, it was set in the past (in this case the 19th century).
   Strong storytelling skills, good performances, and unremarkable visuals are also present in the two films with Concha Velasco that followed. Tormento (Torment, 1974) was an adaptation of a Benito Pérez Galdós novel about a man who decides to marry below his class. In addition to Velasco, Ana Belén, and Francisco Rabal were excellent in the main parts. His next project, Pim, pam, pum . . . fuego! (Ready, Aim . . . Fire! 1975) was among the most remarkable films of 1975, telling story of a chorus girl in the immediate post-war who is in love with a young republican but seduced by an older racketeer. The literary theme of the individual unable to cope with the demands of society was also present in Un hombre llamado Flor de Otoño (A Man Called Autumn Flower, 1978), which belonged to the first wave of Spanish films dealing with homosexuality and was based on a stage play inspired by a real-life 1920s Barcelona lawyer who worked at night as a drag performer.
   In the 1980s, Olea returned to his homeland to benefit from the funding schemes set out by the Basque autonomous government. Akelarre (1984) was a return to the world of superstition portrayed in El bosque del lobo, although this time it dealt with the Inquisition as a repressive structure. Eventually, he found this return to his roots frustrating, and he returned to Madrid. In 1991, he directed the Isabel Pantoja musical El día que nací yo (The Day I Was Born, 1991), and this was followed by the period thriller El maestro de esgrima (The Fencing Master, 1992), an adaptation from best-selling author Arturo Pérez Reverte. The latter was a return to familiar ground, and the film was awarded several Goyas. Next came Morirás en Chafarinas (You Shall Die in Chafarinas, 1995) another thriller, this time contemporary and set in an army camp, and Más allá del jardín (Beyond the Garden Walls, 1996), an incursion into Tennessee Williams territory, with Velasco again starring as a dissatisfied middle-aged bourgeois woman (another literary adaptation, this time of a novel by Antonio Gala). His last film to date is the 2003 marital drama Tiempo de tormenta (Stormy Weather), about a weather forecast woman (Maribel Verdú) and a record company promoter (Darío Grandinetti) who leave their wounded, vulnerable partners (Jorge Sanz and María Barranco) to start a relationship.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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  • Olea, Pedro — (1938 )    Pedro Olea was born in Bilbao, in the Basque Country. He interrupted his degree in economics to study film in the Escuela Oficial de Cine (EOC). His first engagements as director were theater adaptations for Spanish Television, and… …   Guide to cinema

  • Olea, Pedro — b. 1938, Bilbao    Filmmaker and producer Olea s work veers between the commercial and the art cinema, with a long standing career in television. His film Pim, pam, pum, …fuego (Ready, Aim…Fire!) (1975), started the trend of political melodramas… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture

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