Who was Capra, Frank | Biography

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Capra, Frank (1897-1991)

Director of American cinema, born in Palermo (Italy) on May 18, 1897, and died in Hollywood on September 3, 1991.


With just a few years, his family emigrated to the United States, specifically Los Angeles, a city would have to work to get ahead. He held various offices which not only brought money home, but also allowed him to pay for his studies of crafts and then the engineer, who performed at the California Institute of Technology.

Your entry and ascension in the film world came very soon. In the twenties took his first steps as a writer of "gags" to Mack Sennett and soon managed to direct two films that were well received, it was Cannon (1926) and his first Pants (1927) man. Signed by Columbia, which in those years was a modest study, Capra began an upward career, always skillfully addressing current issues, allowing you to connect with the situation of a company that was going to go through times of great difficulty.

At the start of the Great Depression, Capra was established as the quintessential representative of a new morality, a new way of understanding life as an expression in film attempts by President Roosevelt to give back to America "joie de vivre" and faith in the virtues of work, sincerity and innocence. The Italian-American manager always demonstrated a great ability to capture people's behaviors, and that philosophy casticismos man of the people, who for some years was established in an attempt to be certain brand of American society.

The win came with Happened One Night, delicious and smart comedy that would put you in the way of the Oscar, distancing environments ton for which he had traveled before.

With Lost Horizon develops an abstract tale, which seems to move away from his usual way of making films, but in the background is just been shaped, yes, a little more philosophical, their way of understanding life and applied to serve aforementioned policy Roosevelt. It is based on a novel by James Hilton, was a work which provided an excellent opportunity in the hands of a good writer, to express belief in the possibility of existence of a happier and just world. The utopian kingdom of Shangri-La, located in remote valleys of the Himalayas in a monastery of lamas strangers was as the embodiment of an ideal that is known in history as the "New Deal". However, the film suffered many ups and downs and was more estimable from a theoretical perspective as fully achieved cinematographic work.

However, in 1938 Capra regained a pulse adaptation of a play You Can not Take It with You. His vision of film director allowed him to delve into the psychology of the characters and their ideologies. An individual who lives only to hoard wealth is opposed to a picturesque family, which basically is more natural and human than his behavior might believe. Eventually the selfish end up being captured by the family that will eventually interpret tracks playing harmonica.

Mr. Smith poses a broader scenario. This is not to show the small, everyday "American hero" in the big city, but to capture the world of national policy dimensions that starts in the very capital of State in Washington. There will come a type, Boy Scout leader and owner of a pet store, which is elected to the Senate, precisely because of their ingenuity and natural goodness.

To some extent this treatment was a qualitative leap, because although Capra had always said interest in the poor, women and, in short, ordinary people, their specific political position was often tinged with a certain ambiguity. Their beliefs, there is no denying it, were quite simplistic and not very deep, but the image that gave the United States as a country where small groups helped each other was attractive and rewarding.

But all that idealism, that people skills, went for face to face with history walking in another direction, as World War II was already knocking on doors and that was something that Capra accused. Thus appears in 1941 John Doe. This time the man in the street, the ordinary individual, is manipulated by economic and political interests above. Realizing this, the protagonist calls nothing less than suicide. The result did not convince almost anyone.

After this work Capra was dedicated to documentaries war propaganda (especially the series Why do we fight?), Focusing on the world of aviation but not only- and thereby contributing to global conflict.

An event of such features left him unscathed and, returning to normal life, made one of his most famous works Wonderful Life !, where suicide becomes fluttered by the argument. And even need divine intervention. It was a demonstration of the inclination of the head by a deep, intimate America, whose supposed values were dying out or change.

By the late forties Capra company was acquired by Paramount and since then his work was under heavy fetters: he went on to develop a work of director weak romantic comedies. What led him to leave work for a period of eight years.

With the settlement of color and Cinemascope he returned to his activity. Stresses the realization of a gangster for a miracle, one of his last works where the pulse regained their old productions.

Capra was one of the filmmakers who lived changes and technological developments in the film that was decisive in its development as an industry, media and art: the transition from silent to sound, color. Circumstances all of which have shaken many of the professionals who had even acquired a solid reputation. It was not his case and knew extricating himself from the difficulties that this entailed, won prestige and fame.

But what matters in this author's ability to develop his own style, far from strident and wisps. Capra's films flows naturally, we would say that almost a daily basis, ensuring that his characters are traceable, understandable beings. Not sure I ever got. There was in him-which has not been sufficiently destacada- a surreal touch that served to justify the actions of many of its protagonists. It is the apparent contradiction that the individual almost vulgar clothes, timid attitudes, if not bizarre, could prevail in a harsh world where evil had just nearly fell down and captured by the love and goodness of their heroes.

The film Capra entertained and made her laugh, but who came out to see his films, or rather those who were directed, then plunged into a hard life, poverty and difficulties where angels did not have to save or advise anyone . They were hard times, violent, against the director fought, plunging into a universe that coated everyday in the end had a few things that were fictitious.

Capra's characters have a lot of archetypes. On the one hand they are heroes of survival, with ability to find happiness in the most trying situations also absurd-and artificially isolating themselves from reality; on the other, is the full character, willing to sacrifice his life as an example of broken promises.

Actually Capra film presents equally the world as it is and would like to manage whatever. In the background does not give a Christian interpretation of life in which the miracle is something that exists. Capra largely refused to accept reality as it was and believed that traditional values were sufficient to achieve happiness of the people and society.


CAPRA, Frank: The name above the tittle. An autobiography. New York. Da Capo Press. 1997.
CARNEY, Raymond: American vision. The films of Frank Capra. Cambridge. University Press. 1986.
CIEUTAT, Michel: Frank Capra. Paris. Rivages. 1988.
Maland, Charles J .: Frank Capra. Boston. Twayne Publishers. 1980.
McBRIDE, Joseph: Frank Capra. The catastrophe of success. London-Boston. Faber and Faber. 1992.
VIVIANI, Christian: Frank Capra. Paris. Editions des quatre-vents. 1988.
WILLIS, Donald C .: Frank Capra. Madrid. Ediciones JC. 1988.
WOLFE, Charles: Frank Capra, a guide to references and resources. Boston. G. K. Hall & Co. 1987.

Universal DVD Encyclopedia © Micronet SA 1995-2006
Translated for educational purposes.

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