February 25, 2021

The emptied Spain knows the capital: "Grandfather made in Spain"


By virtue of repeating successful clichés at the box office, popular cinema, seen with the passage of time, is a good sociological indicative. Because, we must not take so lightly the dense "Spanish" and, specifically, the cinema of Pedro Lazaga, which touched all the sticks of that small genre: tourism, emigration … Phenomena that in the 60s hatched in the Francoist Spain of the National Stabilization Plan, more and more settled in the economic and more permissive in the moral. A country that was no longer the autonomous island of the 40s and 50s, and that was beginning to walk towards homogenization with the rest of Europe.

A step in that direction was the massive rural exodus to the capitals, between the 50s and 70s. The emptied Spain So in the mouth of all these days began to take shape in those 60s in which Pedro Lazaga signed two films that showed through the laughter and the game of opposites that field-city tension: «The city is not for me» (1966) and "Grandfather Made in Spain" (1969). Both are starring the endearing Paco Martínez Soria, emblem of Aragonese casticism, eternal grandfather of the people to remember and to be ashamed of at the same time.

Both films result in that double standard with our past, a brand of a Spain that wanted to take off the hair of the pasture at the same time that it was forced to admit that we are what we are because we come from where we come from. In "Come to Germany, Pepe" (1971) or in his inquiries into the phenomenon of tourism, of the "Swedes", Lazaga would show the hypocrisy of the average Spaniard and his desire for modernity sometimes misunderstood.

He was not at all a subversive agent this Lazaga who went to Russia with the Blue Division and that, after a promising start with the excellent «Prisoner Rope», he signed a string of films with huge box office success and low intellectual demand. But, adding them all, those "Spanish" offer a very interesting picture of an evolving country, where Paco Martínez Soria always has to play the most backward part of the road. He is the Pyrenean grandfather who, after years without knowing anything about his three daughters who marched to the capital, receives a letter to go to Madrid to meet his grandchildren. With his cardboard suitcase and his sheep, his gaze lost in the great avenues and his discomfort at the pace of modern life, he gives voice to a good part of a country that was disappearing at that moment.

Italian and Spanish neorealism with tapes such as "Grooves" had already analyzed in a much more "serious" tone the alienation and loss of values ​​and referents, especially that of the family and the community, of those in the 40s and 50s they had gone to the cities to look for the beans and had ended up submerged in large bags of marginalization.

Already in the 80s, the children and grandchildren of those emigrants inside and outside Spain of the 50s, 60s and 70s, would be the "quinquis" of the 80s tapes of José Antonio de la Loma and Eloy de la Iglesia. In just three decades, Madrid more than doubled its population, economic neighborhoods of zero were raised, breeding grounds for uprooting.

In the face of that Jurassic stretch of the capitals, Paco Martínez Soria embodied the rural arcadia that, even if he could not write the "o" with a gray hair, remained genuinely pure against a modernity that Spain looked forward to in its economic model and its tourist planning, aware that, anyway, «Spain» was «different», the motto that Manuel Fraga championed in those same 60s.

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