Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Who Are Those Guns? ~ Luis Cuadrado


Luis Cuadrado Encinar was born in Toro, Zamora, Castilla y León, Spain on July 8, 1934. He was the son of Santos Cuadrado, a prestigious master glassmaker, restorer of many of the cathedrals affected by the Spanish Civil War. He tried to follow in his father's footsteps, but he had no talent for drawing, so he decided to study medicine, which he abandoned two years later in favor of photography, his great passion.


He then belonged to the first promotions of the Official School of Cinematography (EOC) and his vocation was such that he voluntarily repeated three years each of the second and third courses, taking up to seven years to leave the school in order to master the technique of lighting masters such as Luis Enrique Torán Peláez or José Fernández Aguayo, as well as the possibility of doing internships. For this reason, when he left the School in 1963, he had already established contacts with the profession working as meritorious in several films, two of them illuminated by Juan Julio Baena: Los golfos (1959), by Carlos Saura, and El cochecito (1960), by Marco Ferreri. After a brief period as second operator to his teacher, Enrique Torán, in titles such as It takes a boy(1963), by Antonio Mercero, or Crimen de doble filo (1964), by José Luis Borau, Carlos Saura gave him his first opportunity as head of photographic direction in La Caza (1965). Cuadrado's debut was surprising due to the quality of its contrasting black and white photography, which impressed a charred landscape where the action and the dramatic tensions between the characters unfolded. Working with color, Cuadrado also demonstrated his mastery in Tomorrow Will be Another Day (1967), by Jaime Camino, or in Pippermint Frappé (1967), by Carlos Saura, and fully confirmed it in the film where his photographic work shines with all its faculties.: The Spirit of the Hive (1973), by Víctor Erice.


Cuadrado understood his work to always be at the service of the story and the director, and for this reason he was able to develop from the most austere visual style to the most precious lighting. As an example of this dedication to service, there are the films shot under the orders of Carlos Saura from the aforementioned La Caza in 1965 to Cría Cuervos, ten years later, or all the titles made for many of his former EOC colleagues, such as, for example, Furtivos (1975), by José Luis Borau, or Pascual Duarte(1976), by Ricardo Franco, ultimately the last works of his career, prematurely broken due to an illness that caused a progressive loss of vision, and in which he needed the invaluable support of his disciple, Teo Escamilla. During the filming of Emilia, parada y fonda (1976), by Angelino Fons, Cuadrado became definitively blind and had to abandon the profession. In his immediately previous film, The Death of the Scorpion (1975), by Gonzalo Herralde, he was already almost blind, if he even had 10 percent vision, and even so, he illuminated and created light environments for each scene of the film, due to his experience, continually requesting information from his focus puller about the composition of the place.


Cuadrado then fell into deep depression and when unoperable brain tumor, that was causing his blindness became too painful he committed suicide on January 18, 1980 in Madrid.  

Luis Cuadrado was a key operator in modern Spanish photography, which led to the renovation of classic photography that was produced together with the productions of Torán and Baena and that constituted the so-called New Spanish Cinema, so when it was no longer possible to have his presence as a cinema operator, the entertainment world turned to commemorate him and his work was honored both in various Spanish capitals and internationally. Thus, the London International Film Festival dedicated a cycle to him in which Luis Cuadrado's contribution to giving cinema a new light was highlighted.

Cuadrado was a cinematographer on four Euro-westerns: Cut-Throats Nine – 1970; Sonny & Jed – 1972; Yankee Dudler – 1973; The White, the Yellow and the Black – 1975.


CUADRADO, Luis (Luis Cuadrado Encinar) [7/8/1934, Toro, Zamora, Castilla y León, Spain – 1/18/1980, Madrid, Madrid, Spain (suicide)] – assistant director, cameraman, cinematographer.

Cut-Throats Nine - 1970

Sonny & Jed – 1972

Yankee Dudler - 1973

The White, the Yellow and the Black – 1975

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