Translation of: "Astros" Filantes bajo el cielo de canaletas, Destino, 17. Mar. 1945

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by José Esteban Vilaró



   The importance of this boom in Barcelona did not go unnoticed in the driving centres of film-entertainment, then centralized in Paris. They viewed the Spanish market as favourite. And 1911 is the year of the great popularity of a great actor on screen. The people took interest in his work, had side pains laughing at his "gags" - his jokes were trendy - and his mimicry hilarious. He was called Max Linder ..

   The Pathé promoted the trip of Max to Barcelona. The propagandistic program included personal performance of the actor on the theatre boards. We are in 1912. He is the first "star" who comes to visit. Barcelona, city of open braces and generous applause, opens the series of ardent receptions, or idols that the cinema starts to create, and consumes, lifts and tears down, with intractable rapidity.


   There were ladies who saw in Max an attractive, tremendously sympathetic man, able to woo her. There were girls already in love with him. Everyone, some more, some less, spent very pleasant moments watching the Pathé films in which the actor outdid himself in games of mimicry and often liked to stay in his underwear. The screen had no rival. People filled the rooms at the announcement of his name.

   The Press announces his arrival. The denial. The re-notification. There were abundant newsletters. Stories of his life, the details thereof. The Press presented with considerable details the "Ace of the cinema". He was twenty years. He was awarded first prize in declamation at the Conservatory. Although the award did not come to mind, because the cinema of the era was dumb, and would continue to be so for many years, it was all part of the armoury of a perfect propaganda. The Barcelona public knew that Max had skills and sports practices. He was nothing less than "boxer, aeronaut, foil fencer, carbine and pistol, skater, balancing and bold "chauffeur". The "Esquella de la Torratxa" spoke of the "man of the day", reproduced on a picture page photographs of his hometown, the things that came to light, of his father, mother and nurse. The Max himself at the age of five years ...

   Some fantasy must have presided over such illustration, because the birthday child, placed into such family souvenirs, showed himself extremely surprised. He did not recognize his parents, let alone his nurse. Concerning his hometown, which was Saint-Loubes, the sight reproduced strangely resembled, according to his own statement, La Bisbal-asur-Marne ...


   Since he arrived in the Francia station, in which he made his first comic exhibition on the platforms, by way of a prologue, he simulated an argument with the guards on duty, continued to cultivate his popularity with thousand extravagances and mocking an original silhouette, helped his self-advertisement. In the Plaza de Catalunya he mounted on a loose mule, that was hooked with ropes that they additionally abandoned for the shooting of the coaches of the Catalana Tratersal, upward along the Rambla de Catalunya. There, later, he gave a comic show of horseback riding and for free with the approval of all.


   The "debut" in the flesh to the public took place on September 20, 1912 at the Teatro Novedades. It was not a success for those who tend to be called flatterers. The audience was a bit chilly. The case has been the same every time a film artist wanted to exploit his success alighting on the boards. The cinematography, with its "Makeup" and "cuttings" is for an actor an art form with a trap. Displays only the accomplished gestures, graceful attitudes, the prepared faces. Imperfections are corrected by the cut, or amended by the repetition of the scenes. The footlight does not allow this kind of dressings. The successes and the failures get highlighted. Nothing escapes its light. He then mimicked unsupported amendments or deletions in the course of work. Max Linder disappointed. The ladies were disillusioned. They did not see in it the manly arrogance that much satisfied them. Nor the vis comica that squandered in his films. Max was in the scene just another actor. But an actor whose language they did not understand.

   There was in the programme of variety, purposely made for your presentation, a number that, that yes, entirely won public favour. That number was that of the dancer Napierkowska. A true success that obscured Max himself from the first day.


(Destino, Mar. 17, 1945)