Berlanga and Valencia: a combination of screen tourism

Valencia gives us a good excuse to visit it every year. The Fallas are Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and an event for all those who want to live a unique experience. But there are many more reasons to get to know this city that boasts of its historical past but also embraces the great constructions of the 21st century.

For movie buffs, any place related to actors and film shoots becomes a pilgrimage site. With directors, however, the “fan” phenomenon doesn’t occur as much. Perhaps because we often don’t know where the filmmaker is from, or maybe because we feel that their place of birth is not of great importance.

In the case of Luis García Berlanga, the opposite is true. The director of masterpieces like “El verdugo,” “Plácido,” and “Bienvenido, míster Marshall” was born, raised, and lived in Valencia, and this beautiful and warm capital greatly influenced his career. He himself defined his films as “falleras, pyrotechnic, and shot on the instant inspiration of ‘pensat i fet’ (thought and done).”

Berlanga always returned to his city in search of inspiration, so following in his footsteps through the places he liked to frequent helps us better understand the symbolism of his cinema. That’s why Valencia Film Office and the City of Valencia wanted to celebrate his centenary (in 2021) by offering screen travelers a tour of the cinemas, cafes, libraries, and museums that shaped the enlightened director that Don Luis was.

The Valencia of Berlanga

Following the Berlanga route means exploring some of the most beautiful and iconic places in Valencia through the eyes of young Berlanga and the adult filmmaker. Over the course of nearly two hours, the journey takes us from iconic locations such as City Hall Square and the North Station to others that are more distinctly “Berlanguian,” such as the Central Market (where he used to buy fish), the Rialto cinema (where he spent long hours in his youth and developed his love for cinema), the Hotel Londres (which belonged to his family), or the old Torino bar (another of his regular haunts when he was in the city).

The Rialto cinema, the place where Berlanga fell in love with cinema / Valencia Film Office
Berlanga was born at number 13 on what was then Císcar Street, which today corresponds to the intersection of Conde Salvatierra and Sorní. Apparently, his connection with the seventh art began at the Rialto cinema, where, as he himself recounted, he had a revelation while watching Pabst’s “Don Quijote.” Because of this experience, although, like many Spaniards of the time, he initially enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, he decided to pursue a professional career in cinema in less than a year. To do so, he moved to Madrid, where the Institute of Cinematographic Research and Experiences (IIEC) was located. By the way, it was there that he met Juan Antonio Bardem, with whom he would shoot his first feature film in 1951: “Esa pareja feliz” (That Happy Couple).
The North station is one of the stops on the route / Valencia Film Office

Then came “Bienvenido, míster Marshall,” “Calabuch,” “Todos a la cárcel,” and so many other titles that earned him recognition from critics and his fellow filmmakers at Cannes, Venice, and even Hollywood.

Berlanga, Agustín González and Manuel Alexandre during the filming of “Everyone in prison” / Rafael Maluenda / Valencia Film Office

This visit evokes those cinemas, cafes, and discussions, forming the narrative of a young teenager who, over the years, created philosophical themes in his films that made us reflect on our lives. Whether you are a fan of Berlanga or have yet to discover him, don’t miss out on taking this route, which you can book by writing to valenciafilmoffice@visitvalencia.es

Other places in Valencia that you can’t miss

Any excuse is good for a vacation in Valencia, and here we’re going to give you five more reasons to visit:

La Albufera. Just 10 kilometers from the city, it’s a dreamlike setting where the tranquility of the landscape and the surrounding light will make you feel like you’re in a far-off place. Many productions have filmed in this natural area, including the series “El embarcadero” (Alex Pina, 2019).

A walk through La Albufera at sunset is the best way to end the day in Valencia / Valencia Film Office

La Lonja de la Seda. A gem of civil Gothic architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its original purpose was to serve as a bank and textile trading center during the Middle Ages.

Cathedral, Miguelete, and Santo Cáliz. The Gothic cathedral, the legend of the authentic Holy Grail, and a tower that dominates the city, all in one place. Strolling through the streets that surround them, especially at night, will transport you to the past.

El jardín del Turia. A whopping 9 kilometers of greenery in the heart of the urban center. Among many fun activities, in the Parque de Cabecera, you can rent small swan-shaped boats, and in the ponds surrounding the City of Arts and Sciences, during the summer months, you can enjoy water walking balls and canoes.

La playa de la Malvarrosa. Valencia’s main urban beach, flanked by a promenade, offers one of the most beautiful views of the city. In addition to the numerous beach bars and bars along the promenade, the Malvarrosa neighborhood, located opposite the beach, is a lively place that embodies the essence of traditional Valencia.

Estella de Berlanga on the Malvarrosa beach promenade / Rafael Maluenda / Valencia Film Office
We hope we’ve given you a few ideas for your next screen visit to Valencia, seen through the eyes of one of its most illustrious citizens. Without a doubt, Luis García Berlanga was a great director, an even better person, and a passionate lover of his hometown. So, we encourage you to, just like him, experience what you see.
By María Parcero

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