- Escamilla, Teo
- (1940-1997)Teo Escamilla was one of the most imaginative and versatile cinematographers in Spanish cinema, a key presence in the most important Nuevo cine español films of the late 1960s. In particular, he was responsible for the visual compositions and lighting of most Carlos Saura films in the 1970s and 1980s. In his work, light and mood reflected (and emanate from) character and plot. He studied cinematography at the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas, and had a long training as camera operator, often with Luis Cuadrado as main cinematographer, producing an extraordinary series of films that constitute a canon of late-Francoist Spanish filmmaking including Nueve cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta, Basilio Martin Patino, 1966), La caza (The Hunt, Carlos Saura, 1965), Las secretas intenciones (Secret Intentions, Antxón Eceiza, 1970), El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive, Victor Erice, 1973), Habla mudita (Speak, Mute Girl, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, 1973), and Furtivos (Poachers, José Luis Borau, 1975).With La caza, he started a long collaboration with Saura, which consolidated in the Transition years, when Escamilla had already become cinematographer, and would range from the cavernous domestic atmospheres of Cría Cuervos (Raise Ravens) in 1975 to the colorful stage-like illusions of El amor brujo (Love the Magician) in 1986. Other Saura collaborations include Elisa, vida mía (Elisa, My Life, 1977), with its unforgettably barren, almost monochrome landscapes; Mamá cumple cien años (Mom Is One Hundred, 1979); Deprisa, deprisa (Faster, Faster, 1981), a shift in style to a more realistic treatment of urban background inspired in nouvelle vague models; the harsh interior lighting in Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding, 1981); and Carmen (1983) and La noche oscura (Dark Night, 1989), in which he explored the palette of Spanish classical painting, particularly José de Ribera. In each of these films he used a specific approach to lighting, from the harsh, realistic documentary look of Deprisa deprisa to the evocative and fantastic atmospheres of Carmen, echoing the confusion between imagination and reality in the film; from the flat lighting of Bodas de sangre to the chiaroscuro of La noche oscura.Teo Escamilla's work is also emblematic of the mood of a group of relevant films of the early Transition years, like A un dios desconocido (To an Unknown God, Jaime Chávarri, 1977), Sonámbulos (Sleepwalkers, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, 1977), and El corazón del bosque (In the Heart of the Forest, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, 1979). The nostalgia and melancholy in these films is matched by gray atmospheres, flooded with dull reflected light.He won the Goya for El amor brujo, with further nominations for El dorado (Carlos Saura, 1988), La noche oscura, and Berlín Blues. He also worked as a director in a segment of Cuentos para una escapada (Tales For an Escapade, 1981) and the excellent bullfighting documentary Tú solo (On Your Own, 1984). Other remarkable work as cinematographer includes: Tata mía (My Granny, José Luis Borau, 1986), Mi general (My General, Jaime de Armiñán, 1987), Al otro lado del túnel (The Other End of the Tunnel, Jaime de Armiñán, 1994), El rey del río (King of the River, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, 1995), and Cosas que dejé en la Habana (Things I left in Havana, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, 1997).
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.