Film Notes: Death of a Cyclist (Original title: Muerte de un ciclista, 1955) directed by Juan Antonio Bardem

A few months ago I had the opportunity to watch once again Juan Antonio Bardem’s masterpiece, Death of a Cyclist. Past Offences‘ Meme for February #1955, offers an excellent opportunity to review this Spanish classic.

ES – IT / Originally 91 minutes but cut by Spanish censors to 88 minutes / B&W / Suevia Films/Trionfalcine/Guión Producciones Cinematográficas Dir: Juan Antonio Bardem Pro: Georges de Beauregard, Manuel J. Goyanes Scr: Juan Antonio Bardem and Luis F. De Igoa, from the novel by De Igoa Cine: Alfredo Fraile Mus: Isidro B. Maiztegui Cast: Lucia Bose ( Maria Jose de Castro ), Alberto Closas ( Juan ), Carlos Casaravilla ( Rafael Sandoval, called Rafa ), Otello Toso ( Miguel de Castro ), Bruna Corra ( Matilde ), Alicia Romay ( Cristina ), Julia Delgado Caro ( Dona Maria ), Matilde Muñoz Sampedro ( Neighbor ), Mercedes Albert ( Cristina ), Emilio Alonso ( Jorge ) Release Date 9 September 1955 (Spain).

Death of a Cyclist aka Age of Infidelity, (Spanish title: Muerte de un ciclista) is a 1955 social realist Spanish drama film directed by Juan Antonio Bardem and starring Italian actress Lucia Bosè, who was dubbed into Spanish by Elsa Fábregas. It won the FIPRESCI Award at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. (Source: Wikipedia) Upper-class geometry professor Juan and his wealthy, married mistress, Maria José, driving back from a late-night rendezvous, accidentally hit a cyclist, and run. The resulting, exquisitely shot tale of guilt, infidelity, and blackmail reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Spain, and surveys the corrupt ethics of a society seduced by decadence. (Source: The Criterion Collection)

In an article entitled Death of a Cyclist: Creating a Modern Spanish Cinema, Marsha Kinder wrote:

Juan Antonio Bardem’s Death of a Cyclist (1955), one of the first Spanish films to win the critics’ prize at a major European festival, was crucial in launching the modern Spanish cinema. Bardem came directly from his triumph at Cannes to the Salamanca Congress, a national film conference organized by Objetivo, a left-wing film journal that he and others started in May 1953. The congress was attended by Spanish filmmakers, both from the left and the right, who were united in condemning the Francoist cinema. Bardem delivered the diagnosis, which was quoted nationwide: “Spanish cinema is politically ineffective, socially false, intellectually worthless, aesthetically nonexistent, industrially crippled.” When describing what a progressive cinema could be, he clearly had Italian neorealism in mind: “The problem of Spanish cinema is that . . . it does not bear testimony to our time.”

Further reading:

Death of a Cyclist: Creating a Modern Spanish Cinema, by Marsha Kinder

Juan Antonio Bardem Obituary at The Guardian

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