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Fernando Arrabal (1932 - )

Lifespan: 1932 -

Related: absurdism - director - Spain - Panic Movement - surrealism - cult films

Then, back in Paris, Jodorowsky teamed up with Spanish playwright Fernando Arrabal and artist Roland Topor to form the Panic Movement (named for the Greek god Pan). Both Arrabal, the enfant terrible of the so-called Theater of the Absurd, and Jodorowksy consorted with those venerable surrealists who remained in Paris and were heavily influenced by their notions of theater.

Viva la Muerte (1970) - Fernando Arrabal
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The tragic loss of his father haunts much of Arrabal's work, although no more strongly than in his 1970 film, Viva La Muerte. Based on his own 1959 novel, Baal Babylone, the film is set during the tumultuous days of the Spanish Civil War. Episodic in structure, Viva La Muerte is a harsh and often nightmarish coming of age tale of young Fando (Mahdi Chaouch) and his search for meaning in a universe that is sorely lacking in any.

Feeling pressure from his family (namely his mother, played by Nuria Espert), the church, the school, and from his peers, to deny his Communist father's legacy, young Fando escapes into a series of savage Oedipal fantasies. Unlike say, Fellini, who sentimentalizes his youthful fantasies in films such as Fellini's Roma (1972) and Amarcord (1974), Arrabal unleashes one gruesome and disturbing image after another: his mother defecating on his father's head; his father beheaded by his mother; his mother wallowing in the butchered remains of a newly slaughtered bull. --Derek Hill


Fernando Arrabal (born August 11, 1932) is a playwright, screenwriter, film director, novelist and poet.

Arrabal was born in the autonomous Spanish city of Melilla on the eastern coast of Morocco. As a child during the Spanish Civil War, his Catholic mother betrayed his Republican father to Francisco Franco's police. He studied law in Madrid and moved to Paris in 1954. Most of his work has been first published in French.

Arrabal's plays have been identified with the Theatre of the Absurd. His earlier works often feature naive characters who do not comprehend the world around them, and many of his works attempt to shock the audience using violence and blasphemy. Arrabal coined the term "panic theatre" to describe this side of his work.

His first play, Pique-nique en campagne (Picnic on the Battlefield, 1958), was influenced by events of the Korean War. Other works include Le Cimetière des voitures (The Car Cemetery, 1958) and Et ils passèrent des menottes aux fleurs (And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers, 1969). He also wrote Orchestration théâtrale (1959), a collection of wordless theatre pieces featuring moving three-dimensional shapes, some of them mechanical, others moved by dancers.

Among Arrabal's better known films are Viva la muerte (Long Live Death, 1970) and J'irai comme un cheval fou (I Will Go Like a Wild Horse, 1973). His novels include Baal Babylon (1959). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Arrabal [Feb 2005]

Playwright, novelist, poet, filmmaker, essayist, provocateur -- Spanish born Fernando Arrabal has continually challenged audiences worldwide regardless of the medium in which he is working. In true Surrealist fashion, his work is insightful, obvious, disgusting, beautiful, political, absurd, humane, violent, maddening, breathtaking, and always unforgettable; alchemical explorations on what it means to be human. Unlike other directors who have swum in surrealist waters, such as Federico Fellini, David Lynch, or even Alejandro Jodorowsky, Arrabal roots his films in the political as well as the psychological. Arrabal was also co-founder of the notorious "Panic Movement" -- a sort of living theater of chaos and rebellion meant to celebrate the Greek god Pan -- along with fellow filmmaker Jodorowsky (who adapted Arrabal's play Fando and Lis to the screen in 1967) and French illustrator and novelist Roland Topor (The Fantastic Planet, The Tenant).

Born on August 11th, 1932, shortly before the Spanish Civil War erupted, Arrabal was quick to learn about the harsh and absurd realities that life frequently bestows upon innocent and guilty alike. His father, an officer in the Spanish Army and an opponent of the military coup that attempted to overthrow the head of the elected liberal Popular Front government, was sentenced to death for his insubordination. The elder Arrabal's sentence was commuted to life in prison, and he eventually escaped in 1941, never to be seen again. --Derek Hill for http://www.imagesjournal.com/2003/reviews/arrabal/text.htm

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