Emilio Ruiz del Rio, the man who blew up Carrero Blanco's car in the cinema

On December 20, 1973, he created an image that all Spaniards recorded on their retinas. The car of Carrero Blanco, president of the government in the last years of the dictatorship and strong man during the Franco regime, dies in an attack the terrorist group ETA . The scene of the vehicle flying through the air and entering a block patio of the building that was at 104 Claudio Coello Street is the history of our country. 100 kilos of Goma-2 and a tunnel dug under the street were what caused an image that, over time, has passed into the collective imagination.

Just six years later, Italian director Gilo Pontecorvo directed a film co-produced between Spain, Italy and France to tell the story of the attempted kidnapping and subsequent murder of Carrero Blanco. Operation Ogre (1979) became a phenomenon and a film that is cinema history for several reasons, including Pontecorvo's mastery or Ennio Morricone's soundtrack. However, what everyone remembers when they mention Operation Ogre is the incredible recreation of the attack and the explosion of the car. An emblematic scene that seems to be taken from a news program instead of a fictional film.

The architect of that masterpiece is Spanish and his name is Emilio Ruiz del Río. Ruiz del Río (Madrid, 1923-2007) was a Renaissance man. He was an artistic director, creator of special effects, painter... but above all he was an expert in models and tricks. It was precisely with a model that he blew up Carrero Blanco's car in the cinema. Now, his documentary legacy is incorporated into the Spanish Film Library thanks to a donation from the family. In this way, the funds present in the institution of a professional who also made the incredible sets of Mutant Action and who worked on films such as Conan the Barbarian, The Spell of Shanghai or Pan's Labyrinth are expanded.

Curiously, his most iconic work, that model of Claudio Coello street used in Operación Ogro, was already in the Filmoteca, as recalled by Josetxo Cerdán, director of the institution, who explains that the collection of Emilio Ruiz del Río was on deposit in his facilities, but thanks to this donation they will be able to catalog it, put it in the inventory and preserve it as it deserves. Along with the work of Ruiz del Río, those of another of the great artistic directors of Spanish cinema, Félix Murcia, responsible for the sets of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, among many other works, have also been incorporated.

For Cerdán "Emilio Ruiz del Río and Félix Murcia are the latest generation of analogical art directors, who worked with their hands". "The fact of having made the donation is very symbolic for that reason because we are facing a way of understanding the profession that ends with that generation and that gave some of the most visual parts of the history of cinema, both in Spain and outside of Spain. , works that sometimes were not very recognized, and were very handmade and with a very powerful artistic and iconic value", he explains about the importance of the legacy of these two magicians.

The imprint of Emilio Ruiz del Río is in many works without the viewer knowing it, for example in David Lynch's Dune. He himself was aware that his work was always in the background, which is why he loved that a scene like the one in Operación Ogre had become emblematic thanks to his models. "These models have remained as a historical fact, and although many times the author's name is not given, for me it is a tremendous satisfaction to know that, hidden a little, I am involved in the historical fact", he told in a interview on TVE within his own model.

He also told the ins and outs of how he designed the entire recreation of the Carrero Blanco attack in a film in which he was not hired at first. "I found out they were shooting this movie and I was interested in how they were going to do the stunt, but they hadn't called me or anything," he recalls.

In the end they called him, and his main concern was to find the car. It couldn't be just any car, but "it had to be a car identical to Carrero Blanco's." "I found this model in a toy store and this was what saved me", acknowledged Emilio Ruiz del Río, who with that toy car already had the measure for the scale with which he was going to make the layout of the street: "I went to Claudio Coello and I measured it detail by detail, even the squares of the sidewalks, everything. The width, the portals, the sidewalks, everything was carefully measured. We were there three days measuring and people were already scared and a doorman came out to tell us that the neighbors were worried.

Once the model was achieved, the problem was how to make the car fly through the air and fall into the patio of the building to scale. They tried it with explosives, but "there was no way to get it to do what the car actually did." Each time it went to one side and "there was no control". Nothing that the magician Ruiz del Río could not solve. The solution came with a tube of compressed air with the exact inclination to cause that, when the toy car passed over it, it would jump into the air and bounce off the roof as it happened on December 20, 1973. A scene to remember It would not be what it was without the invisible work of this craftsman whose work now rests protected in the film library.

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