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Spanish Bad Boy, Bigas Luna Sets Sail with “The Chambermaid on the Titanic”

Spanish Bad Boy, Bigas Luna Sets Sail with "The Chambermaid on the Titanic"

Spanish Bad Boy, Bigas Luna Sets Sail with "The Chambermaid
on the Titanic"

by Anthony Kaufman

Yes, it’s true. His name really is Bigas Luna. And with a name like that, it’s not hard to believe the veteran director has made a career out of sexually provocative stories exploring the depths of love and eroticism. Most famous for his outrageous and sexy trilogy, “Jamon, Jamon” (1992), “Golden Balls” (1993), and “The Tit and the Moon” (1994), Luna gets serious about sex in “The Chambermaid on the Titanic,” the story of a French foundry worker, Horty, (Olivier Martinez) who wins a prize to visit the disembarkation of the illustrious ship. In Southampton, Horty spends one sexless night with a beautiful chambermaid (Aitana Sanchez Gijon), but then returns to his home town, spinning yarns about his elaborate sexual adventures with the lady of the ship. Horty’s stories quickly capture the imagination of townspeople everywhere and he and his jealous wife (Romaine Bohringer) soon find themselves confronting the complexities of fiction, fame and love.

Whether Luna intended it or not, this film about the seductions of storytelling has a lot to say about the public’s fascination with that other “Titanic” story. And although the movie is now being marketed by Samuel Goldwyn as a romantic epic comparable to Cameron’s, Luna’s story is lot more intimate and smart with his subject matter, always questioning the roots of desire and our willingness to be swept up by it.

indieWIRE spoke with the acclaimed Spanish director in Manhattan a few weeks ago. Far more sensitive than would be expected of a man known for his macho Spanish stallions, Luna appears to be more philosopher, than provocateur. Citing influences like the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, Mexican poet Octavio Paz, as well as a “necessary” four year stay working in L.A. (where he drank coffee with Orson Welles and pissed next to Charleton Heston), Luna is as multi-faceted and intelligent as his latest movie.

indieWIRE: I don’t think many Americans know your work, although you’ve
been making films for a while now — this is your 12th film. Can you
talk about how this film differs and is similar to your previous films?

Bigas Luna: There is one film very related to this one, which is “The Tit and the Moon” which shows my romantic and lighter side. I love Goya. I admire and love Goya and there is a lot of similarities in our psychologies. (In my next film Goya is one of the characters.) And Goya started in a kind of lightness and then ended in a darkness. But I am the opposite. I started in the dark, with my first film, “Bilbao” [1978] and “Caniche” [1979] — they are really dark films — and now I am starting to open myself up to the light. With “The Tit and the Moon” and now this one, “The Chambermaid on the Titanic,” I’m opening myself to more lighter subjects.

iW: Do you think that may be one of the reasons why it’s playing here in
the U.S., more wide than your previous films?

Luna: Definitely. My first films were complicated for everyone. They were very dark. There is a Spanish philosopher. . . and he says something that I love about Hitchcock: he was a man that was building his stories on a lightness that spirals to the darkness. A beautiful lady talking to a wonderful architect, but they are talking about dark things, death and murder. And this is a process that I like. My first film, “Bilbao,” was just the opposite; it was darkness with a desire to show a beautiful thing within it. But that’s difficult. I loved my first films, but they were very arrogant, and very dark. But I like to change myself. It gives me a lot of energy, to change. . .

iW: “Chambermaid” is also on a much grander scale than your previous

Luna: It’s one of the biggest productions I’ve ever done. That’s because, since “Jamon, Jam

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