Freelance Spain
Spaniards for the 21st century

Alejandro Amenábar
Film director.

With only four movies carried out, Alejandro Amenábar is already Spain' s film director of the moment. His last work is Mar Adentro (2004), the story of the paralytic, Javier Salgado who fought during all his life to obtain an attended death . This movie, that at first sight may seem controversial by treating a theme as the euthanasia, really is a story of love starred by Javier Bardem y Belén Rueda.

Spanish movie-goers first became aware that this wunderkind was no run-of-the-mill aspiring film director with his first film, Tésis ("Thesis"), released in 1996. It is about a young cinematography student working on her doctoral thesis when she stumbles across some footage gathering dust in the university archives and which turns out to be a snuff film showing the murder of a student. She resolves to locate the murderer (the vengeful Amenábar named the villain after one of his own teachers, who had flunked him at Madrid's Complutense University when he was studying film-making there).

Amenábar's talent as a film director was confirmed with Abre Los Ojos ("Open Your Eyes"), starring Eduardo Noriega and Penélope Cruz and premiered at the end of 1997. It had an intriguing if complicated plot, good production values, fine acting, and some snazzy special effects (one eerie scene depicting Madrid's normally bustling main street, Gran Vía, without cars or people struck a chord with Spanish viewers). The theme is a departure from the usual offerings in Spanish cinema, which tends to dwell on Spain's recent history or on its national foibles. The story, in the purest tradition of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, revolves around a man whose life turns out to be a computer-generated fiction, while he lies in cryogenic hibernation. Throughout, the viewer is left trying to sort reality from dream.

The film, which was premiered in the US at the Sundance Festival, attracted the attention of Tom Cruise, who bought the rights for an American remake (Hollywood wits were quick to suggest "Eyes Wide Open" as an appropriate title). Titled Vanilla Sky and starring Cruise, Robert Redford, Cameron Diaz and, from the original cast, Penelope Cruz, this production did not have the success that was expected. Cruise collaborated with Amenábar as executive producer of his third movie The Others, starred by who was then his wife, Nicole Kidman. This movie, that is spoken in English and elapses in the Island of Jersey during the II World War, is a thriller of psychological terror of the same level of titles such as The Sixth Sense. The few characters and few settings makes the story be told in a magnificently theatrical form. His last movie Mar adentro that has counted with the financial endorsement of the group PRISA (main media group in Spain), it counts on a distribution of actors of a high level category, in spite of the fact that many of them are still unknown faces.

Alejandro Amenábar was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1973, but has lived in Spain since he was a baby and has dual citizenship. His Spanish mother, who had lived through the Spanish Civil War, feared that Chile would suffer similarly and the family fled to Spain two weeks before Pinochet's 1973 coup d'etat.


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