In Memoriam: Carlos Fuentes and Film

Filmmaker Luis Buñuel with Carlos Fuentes

Filmmaker Luis Buñuel with Carlos Fuentes

Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, the country's most celebrated novelist, died today in Mexico City at the age of 83. Throughout his prolific literary career he had some fruitful and influential relationship to Mexican cinema. Fuentes’ first foray into screenwriting happened in 1964 with the film El gallo de oro / The Golden Cockerel by Roberto Gavaldón which was based on Juan Rulfo’s story.

Fuentes had some participation in the group Nuevo Cine, a cinephile group formed in the early sixties by young artists and intellectuals and aspiring filmmakers that were influenced by the French New Wave. The group established a very influential journal that laid the ground for a new generation of film critics.

During the rest of the sixties, Fuentes continued to be active as a screenwriter. He wrote the scripts for Los bien amados / Un alma pura (1965), and Amor, Amor / Las dos Elenas (1965) both based on his own stories and directed by Juan Ibáñez. He also collaborated with Gabriel García Márquez on the script of Tiempo de morir / Time to Die (1966), Arturo Ripstein’s debut feature film based on García Márquez story.

That same year he also worked as screenwriter for Carlos Velos’ adaptation of the milestone novel by Juan Rulfo Pedro Páramo (1967) starring John Gavin. He worked with Ibáñez again on the script of Los Caifanes / The Outsiders (1967) and few years later he worked with Felipe Cazals on his film Aquellos años (1972).

Fuentes also forayed into directing in 1974, along with Héctor Casillas, he co-directed and co-wrote the short film Enigma compartido. La cabeza de la hiedra / The Oil Conspiracy (1981) directed by Paul Leduc and based on Fuentes novel of the same name, was the writer's last screenplay work. 

Additionally, some other work of Fuentes was also adapted to the big screen including the Italian film La strega en amore (1966) by Damiano Damiani based on his novel Aura; and Gringo Viego / Old Gringo (1988), based on his novel of the same name, directed by Argentinean filmmaker Luis Puenzo and starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

Fuentes was married to film actress Rita Macedo between 1959 and 1973 –with whom he had his only surviving daughter, and reportedly he had affairs with actresses Jeanne Moreau and Jean Seberg.