The General Directorate of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) has just acquired, as this newspaper has learned, for 150,000 euros the film and documentary collection of the cartoonist, animator and producer Cruz Delgado (Madrid, 1929), “the last creator of analog animation cinema in Spain”, according to the director of the Spanish Film Library, Josetxo Cerdán. This Monday the signing and delivery of the materials has been closed, which are already resting at the headquarters of the organization, on Magdalena Street, in Madrid.
The Filmoteca recovers the original color of ‘Garbancito de la Mancha’, the first animated film made in Spain
Folders full of the materials with which they were created have arrived Molecule Adventure (1968), Magical adventure (1973), The loft of fantasy (1978), Don Quijote of La Mancha (1979), Gulliver’s Travels (1983), The four town musicians of Bremen (1989) and The trotamusicians (1989). The director of the Spanish Film Library ensures that the archive that is already part of the preserved Spanish historical heritage “is at the same level as the great documentary collection of the Film Library, that of Luis Buñuel.
The operation to purchase the Cruz Delgado fund was attempted to close in 2011, when the former Minister of Culture, César Antonio Molina, tried to start up the National Museum of Cinema, in the old Tabacalera building, until the financial crisis took ahead all investment plans. From then until now, and fulfilling the commitment made, the ICAA has acquired very small parts of this treasure, which is now completely completed with dozens of folders that contain the testimony of a way of working with animation that no longer exists. There are sketches, backgrounds, animations, acetates on which it was animated, etc. The value of the archive is artistic, but also intangible because it is the last testimony of a profession that has died out in industry, with the arrival of the computer.
“Creative material from productions prior to my father’s, such as Chickpea from La Mancha (Arturo Moreno, 1945), nothing has been preserved. He was conscious of keeping everything and we have lost something, after several moves, but at the Spanish Film Library they have been surprised by the volume and how well preserved everything has arrived. In a while, when a film historian wants to investigate how animated films were made until the nineties of the 20th century, they will be able to consult it. There it is all “, explains Cruz Delgado, junior. One minute of footage consisted of 1,400 frames and a number of similar drawings.
That is the main reason why Cerdán recovered the purchase that his predecessors had to paralyze: it was now or never. “It was the last chance to conserve a heritage that does not exist. Little is known about the history of Spanish animation and less is preserved. That is why it is a fundamental addition to our documentary collections, due to its uniqueness”, says the director of the Filmoteca Spanish. The institution guards a hundred personal documentary collections and production companies, to which should be added the film collections. The jewel in the Crown so far were Buñuel’s scripts that will have to share the limelight with the creator of the first major series, the 39 episodes of Don Quijote of La Mancha, which was hired on European and American television networks.
Cruz Delgado, at ninety-one years old, recognizes that he continues to draw one of his first characters, Molecule, “a child with the appearance of an intellectual.” He says that his passion for drawing began in comics and that he conserves more than 200, which he has not delivered to the Spanish Film Library. But there are in the background already public drawings of his, made for his films, since the sixties. There are those of the Quixote. He created the characters and made the series that took him three years of work. Very manual, drawing by drawing. “And you had to color it one by one, using paint and a brush. A lot of work and very intense. About 120 people worked with me, in a studio in the Plaza de las Salesas. This is a handmade craft”, recalls the filmmaker on the phone. So do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman? “Well, I think both. I’m a creator with artisan methods,” Delgado responds.
He says that he has always had a habit of saving and saving. He kept all the drawings of the feature films and short films that he was making. But there came a time when he couldn’t keep that much. “I have not had a warehouse so large as to store all the drawings of each production. Take into account the quantities: there are 24 drawings per second. Each feature film represents thousands of them. So I made a selection, respecting the most important sequences”, says the cartoonist and animation producer. He regrets that of other Spanish filmmakers, such as Arturo Moreno or José Luis Moro, nothing has remained. “It is not that they have chosen Cruz Delgado, it is that there is nothing left but Cruz Delgado,” he adds.
The cartoonist José Ramón Sánchez (Santander, 1936), partner of productions such as The four town musicians of Bremen Y The trotamusiciansHe said of Cruz Delgado that he is a romantic person who has kept his dreams intact. Cruz Delgado came to animation as a cartoonist in the studio of José Luis Moro, in 1956, and five years later he went to work in Brussels, at Belvision Studios.
“José Ramón was the creator, but the animation and filming process was done by me. There are many short films that he owns that he keeps,” explains Cruz Delgado. On his return from Belgium he edits his first film, The cat with boots, a short film that was followed by its first feature, Magical Adventure. In 1978 the first collaboration with José Ramón Sánchez arrived, in The loft of fantasy, and together they sign a golden decade of Spanish animation, which culminates with the first Goya for Best Animated Film, awarded in 1990, and delivered to Cruz Delgado by The four town musicians of Bremen. It was the only film nominated.
Then things changed. Until the 1990s, it had a “very intense” relationship with TVE’s children’s department, but the corporation stopped investing in that department. “They closed it, projects were left undone and I stopped filming,” recalls Cruz Delgado. It coincided with the end of his trade as he had practiced it: “In addition, in the nineties the new computer animation procedures arrive. Today it is very easy, very easy to make an animated film. Then, no.”