Cada ver es... (1981) - full transcript

The life and thoughts of Juan Manuel Espada, keeper in charge of the morgue sited at the Medicine University of Valencia.

You can see that this photo is quite old.

It's of my younger sister wedding.

When I took this picture, my older sister
was not there because she had passed away.

I wanted to have the picture
with all the ten brothers.

So I ordered to add a picture of my
deceased sister with all of us.

As you can see, the picture
looks from another era.

About horror movies...
They don't scare me at all.

I don't like them either because...
that's all a tremendous lie.

There's a camera behind the actor

registering all that fake fear.

People gets scared, but there's no need to be
scared because those actors are not alone.

There are three or four
people behind them.

Life has treated me very good,
despite some a bit disgusting events.

Like the passing of a relative.

Or when your child goes out to the street
and you will never find him again.

Never unemployed.
Thanks God I always had a job.

Economically, fine also.

But I'm afraid of life.

I'm afraid of the moment of my death.
But not because of death itself.

Because I am looking forward
my death to come.

But I want it to arrive by itself.

I don't want to seek for it.

Because it must be beautiful.
Very beautiful.

Because when it arrives,
all of us are equal.

While in life we all think differently.

And there are very bad people

that with death won't be more
into that. They are only into...

It's so bad that we live for the evil.

We think only in killing and power.

And in winning.

Some for power, some for winning,
but we kill.

There's no animal who kills for power.

They kill to eat, but we kill for power.

I'm a man who really enjoys working.

I like to carry out with my duties.
I like to be alone.

In this work I'm usually alone.

I'm alone at home too. So...

I'm almost always alone
both at home and at work.

My wife passed away and...

I don't know...
Loneliness is...

Is nice for some people and
perhaps for others can be a torment.

But for myself...
I went to the countryside. I went alone.

I stayed fifteen days there. Very nice.

I have never read,
because my eyesight is short

and it never allowed me to read.

All I enjoyed with is contemplating the
countryside. As far as my eyes can see.

Without binoculars, nothing.
Only my 24 diopter glasses.

My family doesn't know what I do. They know that
I'm at the Faculty but nothing about my job.

Neither my neighbours. So...

They come sometimes to the Faculty,
they visit the study, but not much more.

They really don't know about
the most important part.

Starring: JUAN M. ESPADA

My friends? Some of them say
that they would never do it.

Others that it would be
too hard for them and...

...they don't want to see it.

So... I don't talk much about it outside.

As soon as I'm out of the Faculty
I completely forget everything.

I don't even know where I am.


No, no! I know nothing about it.

The corpse arrived, I cut its head,

we put it under study...

...and because it was so well cut,
I've kept it.

Is a young girl, 23 years old,

she died for stomach causes, and
the body was studied.

She donated the body so it could be studied.

And this has been kept
here for... for...

...well, like a museum piece.

No, it's displayed only because of that.
It was a beautiful girl,

a young girl and very well cut.
And with a very nice colour.

That's the reason, Marisa.

-Did you get attached to her?
-No, I never got attached to any corpse.

-Is there something that
you don't want to tell me?

-No, there's nothing I don't want
to tell. That's all.

-Juan, however, when you say...
-What happens here is that same thing can be said

with different senses and you are choosing...
-Wait, then explain me something...

-I always based my work in doing
things but not contemplating them.

And I place them importance,
like I place importance to this...

-Please, let's back to the point where
you say that you don't get attached...

-I don't.
How can I get attached to a corpse?

Like sex itself.
For me there's no sex in the corpses.


-I've been very bad during my childhood.

When I was in primary school...

and I'm wearing glasses
since my early childhood,

but playing with my schoolmates,
I was the one who bullied everyone.

One day my glasses fell
into the swimming pool.

So I told another kid to go down
to the pool to get my glasses.

Of course, he didn't want to.
I told him: "You've got to go down!"

He didn't wanted to go,
so I got a ladder,

and put it inside the pool because
the glasses were on the bottom.

I took him by the neck and told him:
"You go down!"

The teacher arrived and asked me what I was doing.
I told her "he must go down and get my glasses".

She said: "How could he? He cannot swim."

Then I told her: "I will go down the
ladder". And I went down the ladder

but very soon I swallowed water
and went outside.

And the glasses remained there.

Then came a kid who could swim, jumped
into the pool and recovered them.

But I was always very rebellious.

Also during the lunchtime. During my childhood
I never felt squeamishness about anything.

So I would put a noodle in my nose,
breath in and take it out through my mouth.

Then nobody would eat that day.

There was also an old woman wearing denture

and she cleaned her dentures in a mug.

And I saw a mug with a black spot
and thought...

with this thing I'm going to
cause disgust to everybody.

I told them: "If you see a mug with a black spot,
that's where the old woman cleans her denture"

And everybody, during breakfast,

all of them raising their mugs.

The one that found the black spot,
didn't have breakfast that day.

The teacher didn't notice it, until one day
she realized that everybody raised their mugs

and that one never had breakfast. So she
asked: "Why are you raising your mugs...

...every morning during breakfast
and one of you doesn't eat?"

But because the kids were so afraid of me,
they wouldn't answer.

And one day I told it myself:

"They don't eat because the old woman cleans
her dentures in the mug and leaves it there"

So they went to the old woman and asked her
why was she cleaning her dentures in the mug.

She said: "I don't have a glass or anything,
so I have to clean it in a mug"

And it was true. The woman had nothing else to use,
so she used to clean her denture in any mug.

After school I came back home.
My mother came to pick me up.

One day while playing in the street
with the kids

Some of them said: "Why don't we go to the war?
Let's go to war!" and we enrolled together.

We were children.
The rifles were taller than us.

They took us to Ebro's river area.

And there you could see everybody crying,
missing their mothers.

Repentant, because we didn't
know where were we going.

But then my glasses broke up,
and I went to the oculist.

I spent one month at the hospital,
on sick leave.

But after that month, they repaired
my glasses and I came back to war.

And I was on my way to join my company,
walking alone a trail at night

and I found a corpse
crossed in the trail.

What a shock!

I started to run in the opposite direction
and I don't know where I stopped.

At the crack of dawn, I had to
come back to the same path.

But by then the corpse had been retired.

When I arrived I saw that
many of my colleagues were missing.

I started to cry,
watching shots everywhere.

It was a complete disaster.

Then during the retreat

I was captured close to Barcelona.

I was made a prisoner
and sent to a concentration camp.

-But listen, do you apologize when...?

-That has nothing to do with it.

-I only apologize to a corpse if I step on it.

-Because I feel sorry for... shouldn't step on a dead person.
You shouldn't.

So if you inadvertently step on a living
or dead person, you must beg them pardon.

- But a dead person is not the same as a living one.

-But I beg it pardon so that
it will not hold this against me.

-What is it going to hold against
you if just a moment ago... said that a dead body
is only a machine?

-Yes, and the soul raises to heaven.

- I apologize to the soul, not to
the body, but I say it to the body.

- Do you believe in the soul?
-The soul...well, that's what they say...

-But do you believe what they say?
-I believe in something.

-When the corpses arrive to
the cemetery, they are usually...

...still warm, because it's been
only 24 hours since the decease

and some parts of the body
remain warm.

When a corpse arrives to the cemetery,
the soul is already gone.

But ancient corpses buried in the cemetery,
from previous eras,

don't accept gladly this one

and they want to attack him.

This one is quite afraid, because if
we resurrect in that moment,

imagine what could happen to us,
in the middle of a dark cemetery at night.

We would die again.
Then, that corpse is scared.

It is quite scared.

Its soul has left. That is what keeps
it at place.

The soul recommends it
to stay where it is, eternally.

The soul will take care for it.

When I came back home, I was hired at the
medicine faculty, by then a military hospital.

I started working in the infectious diseases
area. Nobody wanted to work there.

As I don't find disgusting and I'm
not scared of the corpses or sick people,

I was with patients with tuberculosis,
smallpox... all kinds of infections.

I even remember one patient with leprosy.

I was the one entering his room.
With ease.

One day, at 3 A.M.,
a Civil Guard passed away.

He died, I dressed him up,
I carried him down to the morgue, but...

...because the elevator was so small,
well, is, it still exists,

I carried him holding him with my arms,

entered in the elevator and
went down to the basement.

I had a litter in the basement.

I did my best to open the door,
because those were antique doors

and I put him on the litter.
But when I pressed his chest

while taking him out,
I pressed its lungs,

and it expelled the air inside,
making a noise like it was breathing.

I felt a bit scared.

Because he had died just one hour ago.

But I looked at his face and
he wasn't moving at all.

So I said to myself "He's not alive"
and I put him in the litter.

I took him to the morgue, left him
on the table and I came back up.

But once up, I remembered
that I had not tagged him.

So I went down again to label it.
But I was a bit scared.

I don't know why, because I have
never been afraid of the dead,

since I was a child.
So I finally didn't go down.

Next day, at 8 A.M. I finally went down
and put it the tag.

That was the only corpse that
I've been ever afraid of.

Then I thought "I have to get over this, because
deads make no harm. None of them ever harmed me."

So there's no reason to be afraid of.

Students are quite scared of me.
I scare them a lot.

At the beginning,
when they arrive to the faculty,

they don't know me. They don't know
who I am, and they are terrified of me.

Later on, they get used to me,
and make fun of me.

Take 10. Slate!

Down here we have a basement without
windows, only for the drainpipes.

And there I had a warehouse,
with coffins, skeletons,...

And I made with it a scenery to scare.

So one day I went down with
six or seven students,

other day some others...
And they would run away terrified.

Because when they touched the ramp,
a broom would hit their heads.

Everything very dark, because we went in
with just one candle to make it scarier.

By candlelight they saw the skeleton and...

They would run away and I wasn't
able to catch them.

When running, because the ramp was inverted,
they would step on the ramp and fell,

they all would fell,
one on top of the other.

I had some laughs then.
Later they got used to it,

and they wanted to come without any fear,
so for me it was not funny anymore.

-You've told us that the corpses moved.

-The corpses move just like that one
has been moving now.

And you haven't noticed it. That corpse
has moved more than one centimeter

during the time you have been here.

If that body would have had arms and head,
you would have noticed its movement.

I bring another one tomorrow. and if you
look at it you will notice its movement.

I would like to know why people
are afraid of the dead.

Because I don't get the reasons
to be afraid of a dead person.

It doesn't make a thing.

For example, an animal,
like a dog, that is dead.

A person passes by, and the dog is open because
of a car hit, and the person finds it disgusting.

Then, the same person looks at a corpse
and is not disgusting but frightening.

Why? That's what I want to know,
because a corpse is harmless.

The soul, if there's a soul,
has gone to heaven.

And the body has been left on Earth
and if it's not embalmed, it rots.


For me, death is beautiful.
When I'm with them, I feel comfortable.

I'm with them practically about
13 or 14 hours per day.

I talk to them, like when talking
to living people.

Obviously, they don't reply.
But sometimes...

...they look like they want
to tell me something.

And I know by their gestures
that they want to tell me something.

But... I don't know.

Nobody knows that.

Maybe I've stepped on it accidentally

I turn my face to it and I see it has its
mouth open.

And I think that it has complained.

Probably it complained and left its mouth open.

If you exhume a corpse that
was buried 3 days ago

probably it would appear different
from the burial moment.

The swimming pool was just
a normal one.

I would inject the corpses and
then throw them inside.

It was a big department.

A great thing.

I would throw them inside and
usually they float.

Then some people, not students,
strangers, would come to see...

...the swimming pool, and after watching
the corpses floating, they wanted to swim too.

So they would dove into the pool.
And I cried to them:

"Don't swim in there! That's formalin
with products to preserve the corpses!"

Some of them, after diving fell
unconscious and we had to take them out.

So worried I was that anyone could drown in
there that during one of those situations...

...I woke up and
found myself sleeping in bed.

Very strange things have happened to me.

One day, a corpse hit me in the face.

Throwing my glasses down to the floor.

I wanted to get my glasses...

...with one hand, while holding the
corpse with the other one,

to avoid it from falling to the floor,

and I could get them, reaching them with my foot.

But I was not scared at all.

On another occasion,
trying to put one on the litter,

I don't know how it happened.
I turned myself back,

The litter moved,
because it had idler-wheels,

it turned itself on the litter
and kicked me with its leg.

And I haven't been scared by that.

I don't know what's like
to have a sense of smell.

I don't remember having a sense of smell.

Because when I was a child,
children used to make nasty things.

They gave you things to smell
but I was left the same.

Later, when I grow up,
during the war,

with corpses of 15 or 20 days...

...all soldiers were
wearing masks except me.

They asked why was I not
wearing a mask and I told them

that I felt uncomfortable with it
and anyway I couldn't feel any smell.

The corpses were not smelly.

I believe that the corpse is
watching what you're doing to it

through its soul. I mean...

Probably it's watching everything you
are doing. For those who believe, only.

I believe that there exists something, and that
it's watching what I'm doing to its corpse.

Because I don't abuse or insult it

I'm doing it right. When someone donates his
body, he knows what's going to be done with it.

Then there's nothing wrong in working with it.

I believe the corpse is hearing
our conversations.

It's on everything.
The soul is everywhere.

And it remains above its corpse.

You're opening the corpse and maybe
it is touching your hand.

You can't notice anything,
but I believe in that.

Everybody, at work, thinks about
the things they're working on.

Usually I don't even consider them dead people.
Sometimes, yes, I think they are,

because I look at their faces, and some
of them have a face nicer than others.

I try to enhance their faces, because
some people die with their eyes open.

After embalming, I close its eyes,
I close its mouth.

I leave it as much natural as possible,

so that the students don't find it ugly.

However, some of them, regardless of how hard
I try, are impossible to get much better.

Yes, one of the things I would have
liked to be is a bullfighter.

But I'm very tall, very skinny,
and then there's my surnames.

My surnames come both from the bullring:
"Espada" and "Del Coso".

Love is very beautiful.

You can love a son, a woman,...

You can love your mother...
Every love is different.

But it's one of the most
beautiful things that exist.

By any means.

Death and loneliness are quite similar.

But you can perceive the loneliness
while death, once you die, can't be perceived.

Loneliness is accepted in
different ways by different people.

I accept it with ease.

For me, solitude is beautiful.
Even its name is beautiful: SOLITUDE.

I go alone to the countryside,
once day, fifteen, a month.

And I never get bored.
I don't read, because I can't.

But I never get bored.
I walk paths, trails...

Across the field...
So for me, solitude is beautiful.

There are people who suffer a lot with it.

If I were not enjoying it,
perhaps it would be bad for me too.

I live alone, and I always find
ways to entertain myself.

I even entertain myself with some toy,
like children do.

Sometimes I've played with
toy trucks and little things.

We can say that I haven't met loneliness.

Other of the several dreams I had:
I was walking down the corridor with a corpse,

and I was carrying it in my arms,
like it was a small thing.

It was not heavy.
I was walking very fast,

and some people passed by my side
and saw me.

And they were scared only by looking
at my face. I don't know why!

Then they started running and I ran after them
with that heavy corpse, which wasn't heavy to me.

And I went out to the street,
running with it like a normal thing.

When I realized I couldn't scare
those girls I decided to come back.

While coming back, I stumbled on a ramp,

I fell, and at that moment I woke up.

I appreciate my work. But only me,
not the rest of the people.

-People don't appreciate it?

- Not many people, at least the ones here.

I shouldn't say it like that.
But it drives me crazy.

-But you can't mean the students.
They appreciate you.

-You know what I'm talking about.

My work is not appreciated
by almost anyone.

And it has a lot of value. I know it.

-But you will never say it.
-I'll never say it.

- That's quite good.

-Now we're going to shoot.
-You're not recording anything, aren't you?

-Sound rolling.

I was working at the room.

Night fell.

I kept working, and then
a storm was starting to break.

It was a storm with great thunders and lightnings.

But these were no thunders and lightnings
but the souls that were looking for me.

I could see the souls but I saw them
differently to how they are.

Certainly, nobody knows how a soul looks like.

We think it should have the shape of its person.
Or at least that's what I think.

But you can't see them.
The thunders were their clapings.

They were clapping, which it sounded like thunders.

I got scared, and faced the wall.

And saw very powerful lightnings and thunders
coming towards me.

All the souls wanted to catch me.
And at that moment,

when they did caught me,
I woke up, and found myself in my bed.

I think about death every day.

It's not like thinking about it, but
because I'm living it... Well, not living...

Because I live with it, I think about it everyday.

I think about death almost 24 hours a day.

But I give no importance to it.

Because sometimes, when I'm at home,
I wake up at 3 A.M.

and comes to my mind anything I've
been working in, which is related to death,

and therefore I'm thinking about death again.

At midnight, or from 2 A.M....
I can't precise the hour, but late at night.

I hear noises, like someone tearing paper,


like crumpled cellophane paper...

That sound coming from above the ceiling.

Above the roof of the building.

I don't care about it.

I'm dinning and I hear it,
I'm at bed and I hear it.

Sometimes louder, sometimes lower.

But I don't pay attention to it.
I'm not afraid.

It could be spirits, it could be...
I don't know.

No, I don't care about it because
nothing has happened to me till now.

Marcti / BonZo