March 9, 2021

10 books and 10 bullfighting films to quench the thirst for bulls



The bullfighting fan has been unable to enjoy his great passion for two months because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has paralyzed the season, but he can always resort to the much culture that bullfighting generates, such as these 10 books and 10 movies that we suggest to quench the thirst of bulls during confinement.

Entering and abstracting in a good book is always a great plan, and if it is a bullfighting theme one of the most recommended to do so is “The thread of bullfighting / The heterodox bullfighting”, by Pepe Alameda, essential work to know the evolution of bullfighting over the centuries through the contributions of its protagonists.

To go even further in this field, the “History of bullfighting” by the great Néstor Luján is also a must-read, as well as “At five in the afternoon” by Adrian Shubert, which breaks down the history of bullfighting in relation to economic, social and political contexts of the last four centuries in Spain.

But if there is a title in the bullfighting literature that is, without a doubt, “Juan Belmonte, bullfighter”, by Manuel Chaves Nogales, the novel biography of one of the most relevant bullfighters in history written by one of the greats Journalists of the 20th century, a true work of art that delights even the least talented bullfighters.

Another unique and exciting text like few others is “My people”, in which Pepe Dominguín tells the intense story of one of the most influential sagas of bullfighting and also of Spanish life in the 20th century, while learning about the essence of bullfighting On the other side of the Atlantic one must resort, among others, to “Mexico, ten times crying”, by Fernando Vinyes, which delves into the bullfighting feeling of that country through ten tragedies in the bullring.

As for the other protagonist of the Festival, there are two fundamental works: “El toro bravo”, written almost poetically by Álvaro Domecq and Díez, one of the great ranchers of our time, and “Las clave del toro”, in which Joaquín López del Ramo makes an accurate description of all the casings and their branches through the different current stud farms.

To finish with the literary recommendations, it is necessary to include “Philosophy of bullfighting”, in which the French thinker Francis Wolff writes an authentic decalogue in defense of bullfighting, which he has done for some time, from the great literature, Gerardo Diego with his “Bullfighting poems and prose”, with which he proved to be the best fan of a generation as bullfighting as that of 27.

In addition to these magnificent books, bullfighting has also been a source of inspiration for a handful of great cinema films. One of them is the version of the novel “Currito de la Cruz” directed by Luis Lucia Mingarro in 1949, with Pepín Martín Vázquez as the protagonist and with the reproduction of his superb tasks in the 1946 Charity Bullfight in Madrid.

Another fundamental cinematographic work is “Torero” (1957), by Carlos Velo, almost a documentary about the life of the bullfighter Luis Procuna, with real images of bullfights in which bullfighters of the time also appear as important as Carlos Arruza or the Manolete himself.

A year earlier, in 1956, Ladislao Vajda directed “Tarde de toros”, the story of three bullfighters who share the bill in one of the most anticipated bullfights of the season in Las Ventas, and whose protagonists are three greats of the time : Domingo Ortega, Antonio Bienvenida and Enrique Vera.

Precisely, Enrique Vera combined his bullfighting career with that of “gallant” of Spanish cinema and thus in 1959 he became “The boy of the nuns”, by Ignacio Iquino, whose plot is that of a child abandoned in a convent that is welcomed , raised and educated by the nuns until he became a great bullfighter. That same year, 1959, “El Litri y su sombra”, by Rafael Gil, biography of the great Miguel Báez Espuny, was released.

Already in the 60s it is worth mentioning “Learning to Die” (1963), directed by Pedro Lazaga and performed by the overwhelming Manuel Benítez “El Cordobés”, who, at the height of his fame, starred in one more film, like Palomo Linares , with “New in this square” (1966) or “Only the two” (1968) with Marisol.

Of the prolific decade of the 60s in bullfighting cinema, “I have seen death” (1962), by José María Forqué, in which Álvaro Domecq Romero, Antonio Bienvenida, Andrés Vázquez and Luis Miguel Dominguín evoke the episodes of their lives where they have been closest to dying.

But if there is a highly recommended film due to the values ​​that emerge from it, it is “You only” (1984), a “biopic” about the students of the Bullfighting School in Madrid, and played by very young Luis Miguel Calvo, Joselito , José Luis Bote, Carretero, Sevillita or César del Puerto, among many others.

The bullfighting cinema has lost presence, but, still, the mythical series “Juncal”, by Jaime de Armiñán, played by great actors such as Paco Rabal, Rafael Álvarez “El Brujo” and Fernando Fernán Gómez, among others, should be highlighted. which became a great success on TVE in 1989.

The latest and brightest in bullfighting cinema is, without a doubt, “Blancanieves” (2012), the silent and black-and-white film by Pablo Berger that masterfully starred Macarena Álvarez and won several Goya Awards.

Javier López and Paco Aguado

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