Juan Luis Bunuel Filming New Version of Traven Novel
Mar. 23, 1987
CUERNAVACA, Mexico (AP) _ Juan Luis Bunuel is not intimidated by the legacy of his late father, Luis Bunuel - the father of surrealist cinema.
The 52-year-old French filmmaker said he never planned to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, whose films such as ''Viridiana,'' ''The Exterminating Angel'' and ''That Obscure Object of Desire'' caused shocks and sensations and set landmarks for the world cinema.
''I think the cinema's the last adventure allowed to man,'' Juan Bunuel said. ''Two years ago I was in Patagonia, and now here.''
His experience in filming ''The Island of Passion'' in the bleak, windswept wilds of Patagonia, near the tip of South America, helped land him the director's job here for ''The Rebellion of the Hanged.'' The movie is based on a novel by B. Traven about the exploitation of mahogany loggers earlier in this century in southern Mexico.
''Technically, I've done many films this way - under rough conditions, you might say,'' Bunuel said.
The $5 million production began filming last October in rural locations. It is planned as a four-hour miniseries for European television, with a shorter version intended as a feature film.
The senior Bunuel had settled in Mexico as an exile from his native Spain after the 1936-39 Civil War.
Juan Luis Bunuel was in Mexico one summer after completing his studies at Oberlin College in Ohio. He had planned to return to graduate school in English literature. Instead, he landed a summer job as the late Orson Welles' assistant on the film, ''Don Quixote.'' For the next 12 years, he worked as an assistant on a number of productions and never went back to graduate school.
Bunuel then started directing.
He rejects comparisons with his father, who died in 1983. He left a tremendous legacy spanning six decades, beginning in 1929 with the surrealistic ''The Andalusian Dog.''
The younger Bunuel is an affable, burly and bearded man and doesn't resemble his father at all. ''My life is completely different. I think critical comparisons are silly,'' he said.
Bunuel said perhaps the only family resemblance is a sense of humor, which he attributes to his father as well as his mother, who still lives in the family's Mexico City home.
''There was always imagination and humor and good food - never surrealism,'' he said of his childhood in the Bunuel household. He has a brother who works in theater and production in Los Angeles.
Bunuel's is the second film version of ''The Rebellion of the Hanged.''
The first was a Mexican production in the early 1950s. Traven, who strenuously maintained secrecy about his true identity throughout his writing career, met his wife, Marta Elena Lujan, during the filming of that earlier production. Best known for ''The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,'' he died in 1969.
His wife continues to have an ardent interest in everything about Traven, and has visited the set for ''The Rebellion of the Hanged,'' a picturesque hacienda outside Cuernavaca.
The new production was filmed from October through December in southern Mexico. The location outside of Cuernavaca, some 85 miles southwest of Mexico City, was then used for two weeks. Production then moved to the jungles of Veracruz.
Mrs. Traven said ''The Rebellion of the Hanged'' was part of a series of six novels her husband wrote about the horrendous conditions of the poor in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. She said he started writing the series in 1926, a few years after his arrival in Mexico from his native Germany, and continued it through the 1930s.
In 1953, she was working as a translator for ''The Rebellion of the Hanged,'' being filmed simultaneously in English and Spanish versions. She had met Traven once before, but hadn't known his real identity. They met again on the set and were married in 1957.
Bunuel also got married during the filming of the new version, last December. His wife, who is French, has returned to their home in Paris.
West Germany's Tele-Munchen leads the international production. There also is Italian, French, British, Austrian and Mexican participation.
Executive producer Manfred Heid said he worked for six years on plans to make ''The Rebellion of the Hanged.''
He said Bunuel was chosen to direct because of his familiarity with both the European and Mexican aspects of the production. It is being filmed in Spanish with an almost entirely Mexican cast and will be dubbed into other languages.