Obituary: Lautaro Mura

The death from lung cancer of the Chilean-born actor and director Lautaro Mura in Madrid prompted a sense of frustration as much as sadness among those who knew him in the film and theatre world of the river Plate. He died far from home, aged 69, apparently with little money, and embittered by the lack of work prospects.

That seemed a long way down for the big man who was twice forced into exile, because of his theatre and films, by the Chilean and Argentine military regimes of the 1970s. And then he had returned to the river Plate with the restoration of democracy, to act in and direct blistering accounts of the torment under military rule and the exploitation of the most vulnerable people in local society. The tall man with the gruff heavy smoker's voice was a symbol of defiance to authority throughout his successful career.

Born in Tacna, when it was still in Chile (it is now part of Peru), in 1926, the son of a Basque father and a Peruvian mother, Lautaro Mura was introduced to music and all the arts at home. But he went to Santiago, Chile, to study architecture. There he joined a university theatre group. He then dropped out of the design world and, with a British Council scholarship, trained in the theatre in England. From film and theatre in Chile, he moved to Buenos Aires in 1954, and did not go back to Santiago.

Mura's first film, Shunko (1960), about the tough life of a rural teacher in northern Argentina, won a Mar del Plata festival award in 1961, and launched his career as a director. The film also marked him out as a left- wing artist who was not going to keep quiet in face of the deep divide in Latin American society. And throughout the 1960s his choice of roles on stage emphasised the vehemence of his views.

Mura acted under the late Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, and after making two more films of his own he launched his best known, La Raulito (1974), the dramatisation of the real life of a juvenile delinquent on the brink of sanity, which was an expose of Argentine prejudice and brought people to the cinema in droves.

Mura's face and style were impressed on the public and politicians in some 20 films and countless stage appearances. Augusto Pinochet's coup in September 1973 closed Chile to him for most of the rest of his life. And in the late 1970s the military dictatorship in Argentina forced him into exile in Spain, where he was granted Spanish citizenship. "Argentina hurts too much. The air is unbreathable," he said.

Mura returned to Buenos Aires in 1983, with the restoration of constitutional government under Ral Alfonsn, to make A Funny Dirty Little War, based on Osvaldo Soriano's novel about the bloody factional fighting within Peronism. His last appearance, in 1993, was in Lisa Stantic's A Wall of Silence, alongside Vanessa Redgrave, which was the story of a search for information about people who disappeared during the dictatorship. With that he bowed out, confirming the political stance of a career.

Lautaro Mura, actor and director: born Tacna, Chile 1926; died Madrid 3 December 1995.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower