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The magic of the Running of the bulls for films

01/02/2007. In the very early years of cinema, film making was just a fairground attraction and images of fiestas from around the world were projected

Wouldn´t the running of the bulls be a subject for a movie?

The answer would seem to be yes; just recently we saw an example in where the Korean director, Jhon-Ho Bong, stated that he had found inspiration for his monster in "The Host" from the running of the bulls. And it is clear that the anarchy, the fatality and just the fact of being caught in narrow streets with ten thousand other bodies and six fighting bulls would create an atmosphere and a tremendously attractive plasticity for any scriptwriter, director or cameraman. If we add the partying and general licentiousness the result would be even better, although the fact is that, for the moment, neither Monty Python nor the Farrelly brothers have dared tackle a movie on the running of the bulls or the Sanfermin fiestas.

In the very early years of cinema, film making was just a fairground attraction and images of fiestas from around the world were projected. It is on record that in 1913, images of the running of the bulls were shown in this way across half the world. These images were apparently filmed in 1902 and 1911 for the first ever Sanfermin documentary. These were the first encounters with the world of cinema and from then on, there would never be a Sanfermin without some kind of camera or other.


The most quoted film of all on Sanfermin is "The Sun also Rises". This movie adaptation of the Hemingway book was made in 1956 with Henry King as director. The movie was shot in three different locations, in the Hollywood studios, in Pamplona and in Morelia, in Mexico. Just one camera team came to Pamplona in 1955 in Sanfermin and they filmed background scenery material as no actors were brought over. In Morelia the streets and bullring were adapted to fit the settings and it was here that the actors played out their roles. Tyrone Power, Eva Gardner and Errol Flynn played the leading roles. The bullring is the Mexican version and the other background settings are studio creations.

The American public did not notice any difference but Hemingway himself did, and he was angry about this fact. This film version was not shown in Pamplona until 1978 due to a censorship ban Teddy Villalba, the classic American movie producer, who was recently awarded an honorary "Goya" has talked about the difficulties in the shooting "because at that time we were getting one over on the Government, leading them to believe that we were filming something on the Sanfermin fiestas, but in fact, they were shots to be included in the film "Fiesta", which had been banned from being filmed in Spain." A photo taken in "Las Pocholas" restaurant testifies to that time as it shows Villalba and his film team accompanied by Orson Welles, Antonio Ordoñoz, Ernest Hemingway and Luis Miguel Dominguín.


Another film which makes reference to the running of the bulls is precisely that which Orson Welles was then filming with himself as Don Quixote and visiting different traditional fiestas. With regard to this movie, Villalba affirmed recently that they had to give some film negatives to Welles as he was filming on such a tight budget that he had no money for more film. "Fiesta" has had other film versions. There is a TV version which is not very well known. It was made in 1884 and directed by James Goldstone and just this year it was re-shown on the British Channel 4.

Perhaps one of the most curious is the appearance of Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock from the Star Trek series) in the cast and who plays the part of Mippipopolous. "Americano" is a small-budget movie by Hollywood standards, but big in comparison with European cinema. In this film, the experiences of a young college graduate (Joshua Jackson) are related as he tours Europe with his back pack. He spends his last three days of liberty before returning home to the USA in the Sanfermin fiestas. He meets different characters who will tempt him with other alternatives to his planned future life. Just what happens to many people who come to the Sanfermines. You can check it out here making off.

Besides films and TV shows, the running of the bulls has also served for lots of promotional images. In 1992, Spike Lee shot images for a Levi spot. He was to be seen around the town by many people that year with his red necktie. A reverse version has also been made such as the Texan jeans one with their own bulls imitating the Sanfermin running of the bulls. Also the New York background one where the runners are dressed in the Sanfermin gear and running through the streets of New York in front of some bison. San Miguel.



Cinema "Sangre y Sexo" was a porn movie made in 1999 by the Catalonian producer, New Line Films and set in Sanfermines. It was the first porn film to be dubbed into Basque Language, or at least that was the intention of the producers. Because the fact is, since it was filmed, nobody seems to have seen or heard of it again. But apparently , the plot was basically that of Sanfermines and sex. "Viva Pamplona! Viva San Fermin" is a film directed by Harley Douglas Whatley based on a screenplay written by himself and distributed by skyfilms in 2003.


It can be bought on Internet. The director himself defines it as "A musical odyssey where three elements of Sanfermin stand out" The Chupinazo opening rocket, the running of the bulls and The Bullfights. "Other films which have had Sanfermin as their background include "Tu y Yo somos tres" (Rafael Gil, 1962), "Carnaval de Ladrones" (Russell Rouse, 1967), "Un Rincon para Querernos" (Ignacio F. Iquino, 1967) "Cita en Navarra" (José Grañena, 1970), "La Trastienda" (Jorge Grau, 1976), "Luna de Verano" (Pedro Lazaga, 12958) "El Momento de la Verdad" (Francesco Rosi, 1965) Cowboys de Ciudad (Ron Underwood, 1991) and The Football Factory (Keith Boak, 2001) and "Americano" (Kevin Noland, 2003).

Documentary "Fiesta de la Aviación" is a short documentary film made by Enrique Blanco and Gaspar Arroyo during the 1911 Sanfermin fiestas in Pamplona. The main focus is on the aviation contest held that year and with some of the stars of the period: Vedrines, Garnier, Tixier and Mrs. Brianscourt. This short is also well known because the three cameramen managed to film in detail the accident suffered by Mrs. Brianscourt, from which she survived without as much as a scratch. The film was released immediately during the fiestas and proved to be one of the most popular attractions of that year, thanks to the accident caught by the cameras.

The running of the bulls and the bullfights were also filmed in this documentary. Between 1930 and 1950, the Navarra producer, Miguel Mezquíriz shot documentary film of the fiestas and the running of the bulls during these years. This man had an extensive career in Mexican and Spanish cinema, working as a producer. We shouldn?t forget the laudable documentary restoration work carried out by Antonio Ruiz. In his cinema laboratory he has recovered kilometers of footage on the history of Pamplona and among these, shots of the evolution of the fiestas and the running of the bulls down the years. Perhaps this work would crystallize with "Pamplona, lo que va de ayer a hoy" made by Iñaki Arrubia and edited by Aritz Gorostiaga.

Another title with a catching heading is "Viva San Fermin!" This refers to a documentary made in 1981 directed by Ivor Bowen. It was a co-production between three countries; Australia, New Zealand and Canada, although it seems to have become best known in the land of the kangaroos. One of the most recent documentaries is that of Sanfermines´78 from Juan Gautier and José Ángel Jiménez, which was premiered in 2004. It shows collected visual material about the events of the 8th of July of that year during the fiestas. 25 years on, the people involved in the events reminisce about that year and it gives a good portrait of the reality of those days.

The moon also rises

Another documentary which will appear soon along with a feature-length. "The Moon also Rises"- is being given its final shootings by Diego Abad, "El Antxoa" and Imanol Reta. Mikel Urmeneta is working on the script and editing of this new work which will join the list of audiovisual accounts of the Sanfermines.

Others: "Sucede en Sanfermin" (Francisco Centol, 1957), "Porque llegaron las fiestas" (Jesus Sastre, 1980), "The Runner" (Esteban Uyarra, 2001). "El encierro de Pamplona" is from the year 1963 made by the director, Julián de la flor for NODO news reports. It lasts 11 minutes. Commentary is provided by Matías Prat and it reflects the paucity of the fiestas in those years.

"Las Fiestas" is another documentary made on the Sanfermin fiestas but this time from the inside in that it was made in 1995 by local professional workers from the Navarra regional center of the national television channel, TVE. The script was made by Marian G. Roncal while the filming was carried out by Puy Cantalapiedra. This half-hour film sums up all the classic san Fermin events in the classic style of a television news summary.

Data exists of other documentaries such as the one presented last year by James Fulbright at the 39th edition of the annual Worldfest festival in Houston. This was titled ?Pamplona? and it dealt with an emotive look at the running of the bulls, the event which Ernest Hemingway loved so much. TV In very month (from the 14th to 20th of February, 2007) American TV viewers of KQED who have access to American Public Television, and more particularly to the series "Passport to Adventure", can enjoy watching chapter 115 at prime time.

The title is "Spain´s Basque country and the Festival of San Fermin"? and this is a half-hour report in documentary style which shows a tourist trail which begins in Biarritz, passes through San Juan de Luz and finishes up in Pamplona. It covers many aspects of the fiestas but also spends time on the running of the bulls. It finishes with the perennial question about the bullfights. "Is this an elegant artistic performance or just a cruel exploitation"

Musical videos

The Argentinean group, Attaque 77 has as the title of one of their pieces: San Fermin? This musical video shows some of the best images of gorings, bull-running and the rest while the music theme contains some mind-boggling lyrics which go like this: ?corridas de toro, la fiesta de San Fermin comienza ya?/ Es trágico el evento y el sufrimiento que padece el pobre animal/ mira, un tipo se cav/ mira; el toro lo alcanza/ después de todo no es tan mal/ le clava los cuernos en el espina dorsal.? A very personal view based on the stereotype perforated by Argentinean rock.

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