Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Mexican Vampire
Exclusive reports from Crime Fiction's international big-bash by our roving reporter.
4th day - Mexican actor Germán Robles
This year La Semana Negra is paying homage to Germán Robles. Robles is a very well known actor in México and other parts of the world for the collection of vampire movies he did during the late 1950s. He is considered “the” Latin vampire of our time. As critic Jesús Palacios (author of the ¡A mordiscos! book distributed free each night) said, “the Americans have Bela Lugosi, the English, Christopher Lee. We have Germán Robles, one of the greatest”.
La Semana Negra has been screening his movies since Saturday, every night at ten thirty. Since the first day the tent has been full, definitely because at the beginning of each screening, Germán Robles himself presents the movie, and tells spectators an anecdote about the movie. Although he is an elderly person now, he still maintains a posture and an enviable elegance. He is a great actor and is not afraid to say it himself, as on Sunday, “I’m a great actor, and since I don’t have my grandma to be saying good things about me, I have to say it myself: I’m a really good actor!”
Although he has been recognized for his work around the world, and his movies have been translated into more then fifty languages, he is not very well known in Spain. This is especially sad, because although his whole career is centered in México, Robles is from Gijón.
This was a big surprise for the people of this city. Robles’s dad fled the country during the years of the war and settled in Mexico City. Seven years later his wife and son Germán followed him, and the seventeen-year-old Germán Robles started working as an actor and draftsman. He filmed “El Vampiro” in 1957, directed by Fernando Mendéz, before Christopher Lee!
Germán told Sunday’s audience an amazing anecdote about this. He said he had a Mexican friend who used to work at London’s BBC, and at an event he had the opportunity to talk to Christopher Lee. Lee asked him if he was from México and if he knew the actor Germán Robles, to which the reporter, Robles’ friend, answered, “Yes, yes, we are like brothers”. Then Lee told him, “Well, tell Mr. Robles that he was been a true inspiration for me.” Who would have thought that a Mexican inspired the acting as a vampire of an Englishman! An incredible anecdote that Robles told with great pride and a definitely well deserved recognition.
I don’t know how hard it is to find his movies now, but it is definitely worth a try. There are incredibly good Mexican movies from the so-called, “cine de oro mexicano.” Instead of gothic cathedrals or houses with enormous chandeliers as we are used to seeing in dark vampire movies, you see an old Mexican hacienda in a little town of provincial México, a beautiful actress, and an indigenous man, endlessly praying throughout the movie.
Germán Robles's character is an elegant vampire who speaks well, and as Robles himself said, “you can smell his lavender cologne from meters away.” Well directed and aesthetically perfect, even though it was 1957, the special effects are good and the acting amazing.
I emphatically recommend Roble’s vampire collection, and as La Semana Negra continues, so the screenings will continue special homage to a special bloodsucking Gijones.