viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

Mattes and miniatures on Spanish cinema during the 30´S and 40´S


After several months without posting anything, I get back on track again on my little Blog. During the lat months I’ve been busy with the publishing of my book dedicated to Special effects on Spanish Cinema. For this reason I have decided to dedicate this article to the pioneers of matte painting and miniatures on Spanish films.

After the research I've been doing in these last years, I have not found Spanish films with matte paintings for the years of silent films, except a couple of productions that were filmed in France. Like, La Bodega (1930)
In this case the matte paintings were made by the British artist Walter Percy Day.


Also working in French cinema of the decade of the twenties, was the Russian art director Pierre SchildnechtHe worked with Percy Day on French films like Napoleon (1926) and probably learned the technique of matte painting seeing him perform the glass tricks.


During his time in France, Schild was art director for two films directed by Spanish Luis Buñuel. In one of them, The golden age (1930), he performed a trick with a hanging miniature to complete the ceiling of a large living room.

In the early forties, Schild moved to Spain fleeing the Second World War. At 1940 he performed the first matte painting on a Spanish film. La florista de la reina (1940) Pierre Schildnecht changed its name to Pedro Schild, easier to pronounce in Spain.

He remained in Spain until his dead working as art director and executing matte paintings. Pedro Schild working on a painting for an unidentified film. 

Two matte paintings by Schild from Ines de Castro (1944)




Two matte paintings from the film Camoens (1946)





During his early years he had a Spanish assistant who learned the used of hanging miniatures and glass paintings. Juan Alberto Soler, who became art director in Barcelona and made use of those tricks very often.  Juan Alberto worked under Schild  on the film  Sucedio en Damasco (1943)  on which Schild executed several matte painings and some hanging miniatures.
Pedro Schild supervising  a hanging miniature for Sucedio en Damasco.

Some years later, when Juan Alberto became art director, he executed his own matte paintings when required, and made use of miniatures regularly.
One glass panting from Los que nunca mueren (1955) and  a foreground minature from Doce horas de vida (1948) both by Juan Alberto.

 


There were other art directors experimenting with those tricks during the late 30´s and early 40´s.

German art director Sigfredo Burmann, started painting backdrops for theatre and then became art director for films. He learned the glass and matte painting techniques during his works in Germany. He first used foreground miniatures on the late thirties for the film La gitanilla (1939) 


It was on the forties when Burmann  talked to his main backdrop painter, Enrique Salvá, suggesting that he should try to do some glass paintings for his film Los ultimos de Filipinas (1945)

Other art director interested on those perspective tricks was Enrique Alarcon. He learned under Pedro Schild, and then worked as assistant of Burmann for a couple of films.  When he became  art director he took full responsibility of designing the numerous foreground miniatures he used during that decade, like the upper part of a boat dining room for the film Deliciosamente tontos (1943)

He brought his expertise to such a degree of building sets that consisted only in a floor and a small background, building everything else on a miniature perfectly matched. Two samples of minimum sets for the film La noche del sabado (1950)



And the interior of a Jewish temple on the film El beso de Judas (1953)

He first took advantage of glass paintings for the film El Clavo (1944) He commissioned Enrique Salvá the backdrops, and glass paintings.  Salvá became the main Spanish matte painter of those years. He had a young apprentice under his tutelage those years; he was Emilio Ruiz, who learned with him the technique of painting backdrops and glass shots.  

Two glass paintings from El Clavo, with the upper part of the court room painted on glass.
  



Enrique Salvá and his young assistant Emilo Ruiz on location with the partiallly built set from Alba de America(1951)  with sets designed by Sigfredo Burmann

The upper part of the interior of a cathedral was painted on glass by Salvá-Ruiz  team for the film Locura de amor (1948) with sets by Burmann.

There was another Spanish artist making glass shots for films, the art director Alfonso de Lucas, who used foreground miniatures for the first time on the film Orosia (1944) He was a master on the use of hanging miniatures and also executed glass paintings when it was necessary. 
Foreground miniature from Orosia.


He also completed a set with a hanging miniature ceiling on the film Mi enemigo el doctor (1944)




For the film Don Juan de Serrallonga (1948) he used hanging miniatures  like that room on which  two-thirds of the frame are miniature including the ceiling,  solomonic columns and the wall with the painting.

For that same film he painted on glass the upper part of a 17th Century Inn.



On the film El hijo de la noche (1949) Alfonso de Lucas created a minimum set with a street floor and  a faraway backdrop painting, enhanced  with a glass painting street. 



Alfonso de Lucas painting the street view.

There were many other art directors who mad use of hanging miniatures on Spanish cinema during those years, like, Francisco Canet, Emilio Ferrer, or Teddy Villalba.
The first one is  a ceiling from  La patria chica (1943) by Villalba.
Below, another ceiling for the film  Una chica de opereta (1943) by Ferrer.  
And at the botton   the upper half of the frame is a miniature of the interior of Notre Dame cathedral for the film  Eugenia de Montijo (1944) by Canet and Luis Santamaria.



Most of those miniatures were built by set constructors like Francisco Asensio, Francisco Prosper, or Enrique Bronchalo.
Prosper already knew this technique since the 40s, but he gained even more experience working extensively with miniatures in the sixties and seventies with Eugene Lourie and Ray Harryhausen.


Coming next: In search of matte artist Darrell A. Anderson.