Carles Balague home
Film-maker and owner of Cinema Méliès
I left law in ’85 or ’86, after practising for some 12 or 15 years. I switched over to film because I preferred the world of cinema. I was tired and an opportunity came up to direct a film. So I left law.
I was always attracted to the dark side of some of the personalities that I saw as a lawyer. When I went from being a lawyer to a film-maker, I sometimes adapted reports.
“Good people don’t get anywhere,” as Hitchcock used to say. The most interesting people are criminals, murderers, people who have a dark side. People in the shadows.
I had always been a fan of classic cinema and Barcelona didn’t have any of that. So, in December of 1996, we put together a distributorship to handle classic films and opened up the cinema in order to introduce films that weren’t well known in Barcelona. I had seen other original version cinemas in New York, London and Paris and I liked how they worked. What happens, however, is that there’s a very limited audience. So it’s a little difficult for us.
In the beginning we had few expenses. We would import only one or two, add subtitles. That was very expensive. It’s not the same to order one as it is to order 100. And at that time we didn’t have grants or anything, so it cost a lot. But we didn’t draw a salary, so we got by.
We’ve changed our programme a little. Now these films aren’t so successful at Méliès, because classic films are now available on DVD, even given away by newspapers.
For the moment we are going to continue. We have a programme in which we organise showings together with Cine Verdi. It’s possible that next summer we’ll go back to showing classic films. But we’ll be having shorter runs.
My latest film is called Arropiero, el Vagabundo de la Muerte and is a documentary about the most important serial killer in the history of Spain. It opens this month. He committed 47 murders in Spain, France and Italy. Arropiero was detained in 1971 and died in 1998 in a psychiatric ward in Santa Coloma de Gramanet.
It was an important case because Spanish justice didn’t know what to do with him, a major serial killer. They locked him up in a psychiatric hospital and gave him electroshock and medication just like in A Clockwork Orange to reduce his ferocity. He was very violent, very impulsive. He died like a vegetable, his mind completely destroyed.