Josep Joan Bigas Luna, film director, born 19 March 1946, died 6 April 2013
The death of someone who most famous film tagline was “a film where women eat men and men eat ham” can’t go without mention.
The Catalan director who preferred to be referred to using just his last two names – Bigas Luna, was one of a group of Spanish directors who exploded onto the scene after the death of Franco in 1975 and the law ending censorship was passed in 1977.
Heavily influenced by his friend and hero, Salvador Dalí, Bigas Luna’s best known films were primarily concerned with social commentary in newly liberated Spain, sexual relations and Spanish machismo.
Following an early career in advertising and a series of pornographic shorts, Bigas Luna’s first “largometraje” – Tattoo – was selected for Cannes. 20 more films were to follow.
Yet, it was for his Iberian trilogy of Spanish eroticism and ham, which the director described as “a portrait of everything I love and hate about Spain”, that sealed his place in Spanish cinema history. Golden Balls (1993), The Tit and the Moon (1994) and the one he is no doubt most known for – Ham Ham (1992).
Jamón Jamón, to give it its Spanish title is a film about desire which takes place in a small Spanish town and which centres on the intergenerational sexual exploits of its inhabitants. The film won a Leone d’Argento at the Venice Festival.
Both Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem as its two protagonists have a lot to thank Mr. Luna for. It did of course, launch both their careers – Pedro Almodóvar, a director of less extreme tastes (Imagine that? Who knew?) went on to cast both of them in many of his own films after seeing their “meaty” performances. Of course, Cruz the first-timer and Bardem – Bigas Luna’s Spanish stud and Spanish machismo personified went on to marry each other in 2010. I wonder if they often eat ham at home?
Bigas Luna’s edgy work was sexy, surreal, outrageous and bawdy. He was married and the father of 3 daughters with whom he lived until his death this month in Tarragona where he produced wine, ham and organic products.