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Catalonia, Land of Film Shoots

Todo-madre-Barcelona-Teresa-Isasi_ARAIMA20140820_0107_45(By Núria Juanico/Ara) Sometimes movies will fool you. Films like “The Bourne Identity”, “Sahara” and “Perfume” are set elsewhere when, actually, they were shot in Catalonia. Filmmakers from around the world have travelled to places such as Barcelona, the Costa Brava and Baix Llobregat to shoot their movies. That’s the topic of Eugeni Osácar’s book, “Catalunya de pel·lícula” (“Catalonia in the Movies”), published by Diëresis.

1. Albert Serra’s Don Quixote, in Alt Empordà

The thick forests travelled by Quixote and Sancho in “Honor de cavalleria” (2006) are far from La Mancha. However, director Albert Serra shot most of the exterior scenes of the film that gave him a name abroad in Alt Empordà, Pla de l’Estany and Garrotxa. The deliberate conversations between the main characters, the contemplative scenes where they watch the sky and their long walks were also filmed in the open fields of Sant Climent Sescebes, Espolla, Fontcoberta and el Port de la Selva.

2. Pattison plays Salvador Dalí in Cadaqués

Before becoming the most seductive vampire on film, Robert Pattison travelled to Cadaqués to put himself in the shoes of Salvador Dalí. In “Little Ashes” (2008), the streets of this Empordà village are the setting for the love affair between Dalí and Federico García Lorca, played by Javier Beltrán. Luis Buñuel is also present in the story, which captures the youthful friendship of the three artists. It’s all set in the whitewashed houses and hidden coves of Cadaqués, where Dalí and Lorca spent a steamy summer that they’d never forget.

3. “Black Bread” in Osona

A horse pulling a cart falls off a cliff in Tavertet. This is the shocking start of “Black Bread” (2010), shot on location in Osona, Bages and Berguedà. Some of the places that can be recognised in the movie are the Can Llanes factory in Manlleu, the church in Sant Climent de l’Espunyola and the cemetery of Pont de Vilomara. The film won nine Goya awards and came close to being nominated for an oscar. Directed by Agustí Villaronga, the movie is set in 1940s Catalonia and the main characters are played by Francesc Colomer and Marina Comas. For greater realism, the accent and language of the characters received extra attention.

4. The real setting of “Soldiers of Salamina”

Nothing like choosing the actual location of a story to give a movie the best setting. That’s what David Trueba did when he adapted the novel “Soldiers of Salamina” in 2003: he shot it in several spots in Pla de l’Estany and Gironès. The main character, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, hides in the woods of Palol de Revardit, after narrowly escaping a firing squad that killed 50 other fascist prisoners. In this area are Mas Borrell and Mas de la Casa Nova, where other scenes were filmed, too.

5. Girona goes French with “Perfume”

Girona became the French city of Grasse in many scenes of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” (2006). It is on the stairs of Sant Martí in Girona where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille lures and kills a prostitute, dragging her body up Sant Domènec –one of the film’s most disturbing shots–. The streets of the old Jewish Quarter and the cathedral are the silent witness to Grenuille’s many crimes, although the bridge at the entrance of the city is actually Besalú’s. Other scenes were shot in Barcelona city.

6. Liz Taylor’s last summer on Costa Brava

It’s not the ocean off California but the Mediterranean sea where Elizabeth Taylor wallows in the hottest scene of “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959). The beach of Sant Pol in Sant Feliu de Guíxols provides the backdrop for Taylor diving into the sea, in one of the movie’s most celebrated moments. However, a less idyllic scene was shot in Begur: a group of young people eagerly devours one of the film’s characters. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the film was banned in Spain because it touched on topics such as homosexuality and cannibalism.

7. Lloret is Monterrey with McConaughey

Lloret de Mar played a key role in the love affair between Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz. That’s where they filmed one the most passionate moments of action superproduction “Sahara” (2005). Sa Boadella beach became the bay of Monterrey, where the last scene of the film was meant to take place. Director Breck Eisner also used the sand dunes and the lighthouse of Punta del Fangar, in the Ebre delta, as a location for this action story about epidemics and treasures in Africa.

8. Manresa as seen by Berlanga

Filmmaker Luis García Berlanga picked Manresa to shoot “Plácido” (1961), a choral satire of bourgeois hypocrisy. The movie is set in a provincial town and shows several Manresa locations, such as the train station, the parish of El Carme, the plaça Major and the Plana de l’Om.

9. Intrigue and history in Montserrat

Over 90 people walked up to the Agulles of Montserrat to film on the more complex scenes of “Bruc, la llegenda” (2010). In a completely different genre, director Sammo Hung chose the Montserrat mountain as the location for one the most mysterious moments of “Wheels on Meals”

10. Barcelona, the setting that fascinates everywhere

Barcelona is a cinematographic city. Many directors, including Woody Allen, Rodrigo Cortés and Dani de la Orden have felt the pull of the Catalan capital. Almodóvar chose the Sagrada Família for some night time scenes in “All about my Mother” (1999), while French filmmaker Cédric Klapisch picked the Catalan capital for “L’auberge espagnole” (aka “The Spanish Apartment”). Michelangelo Antonioni fell in love with Parc de la Ciutadella and used it for some elegant wide shots in “The Passenger”. Instead, directors Mario Camus (“La ciutat dels prodigis”, 1999) and Michael Bray (“The Sea Change”) picked the Parc del Laberint d’Horta. Other films were also partly shot in Barcelona, including “The Bourne Identity” (2007), “Land and Freedom” (1995) and “Manuale d’amore 2” (2007).

Read the full post on Ara

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One thought on “Catalonia, Land of Film Shoots

  1. Pingback: Catalonia, Land of Film Shoots | Tinseltown Times

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