- Buchs, José
- (1896-1973)Born in Santander, writer and director José Buchs started in the film industry as actor assistant to playwright Jacinto Benavente in the latter's filmed version of his stage hit Los intereses creados (Vested Interests) in 1918. The following year, he co-directed three films with Julio Rosset, and in 1920 he made his first film as sole director: Expiación (Expiation, 1920). From that moment, he became one of the most innovative directors of the 1920s, and he is often credited with the consolidation of zarzuelas, folkloric films, and costume dramas as popular genres in the silent period, even at a time when the film business was failing to take off in Spain.Of the early pioneers, he was the first to develop film's potential in Madrid, rather than in Barcelona, and throughout his career we see the clearest attempt to adapt specifically Spanish themes and approaches into film. He realized the box-office potential of costumbrismo on film, directing a number of sainetes, including El pobre Valbuena (Poor Valbuena, 1923) and Curro Vargas (1923). Always focused on the spectacular potential of film, he embarked on a series of historical dramas, mostly set in the 19th century, including El Conde Maravillas (Count Wonders, 1927), Pepe-Hillo (1928), and especially Una extraña aventura de Luis Candelas (Luis Candelas' Strange Adventure, 1926), which critics consider his most accomplished film. One particular Spanish theme he drew on was the mythology of Sierra Morena outlaws (the setting of Merimée's Carmen), who held the status of popular heroes in the previous century.Music was another passion for Buchs, and he decided he could bring costumbrismo and popular song together in a series of folkloric song-based silent films, which were later synchronized. Carceleras (Prison Women, 1922), a play with songs that takes place in Córdoba, was one of the earliest Spanish box-office hits. He also directed a successful series of zarzuela adaptations, including La verbena de la Paloma (The Fair of the Virgin of the Dove, 1921) and El rey que rabió (The Raging King, 1929).In 1929, Buchs directed Prim, based on the life of a 19th-century general who was very active in the complex political events of the mid-19th century, and who achieved a brief change in the ruling dynasty and the first republican experiment in the country. For this feature, he perfected the system of synchronization with records, and Prim has come to be regarded by some historians as the first Spanish talkie. He continued making films into the 1930s, including versions of his previous films. He made a second version of Carceleras (1932). His career became less remarkable after the Civil War. Although he remained active in the 1940s, making up to eight films, he mostly retired after two films in the 1950s.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.