Throughout the years, music has played a very important role in the history of Andalusia. Since the Ancient Age, when women from Cadiz used to sing and dance accompanied by small percussion instruments (concussion idiophones) in the Roman festivals, to these days, with Andalusian artists such as Malú, Manuel Carrasco or India Martínez who have been particularly successful, music has been evolving and acquiring a leading role in its own right in the popular festivals. And so it has been reflected in the Andalusian cinema: a marriage of scenarios, stories, and songs that are enjoyed almost as much with the eyes as with the ear while recognizing on the big screen those places where, among others, Camarón, María Callas or John Lennon have been.
Natalia de Molina (Actress)
“It was very special to shoot in Almería with ‘Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed’. The landscapes of Cabo de Gata, the beach … I have always spent the summers there since I was a child, and to suddenly have a shoot at those same places and then seeing it on the screen was an experience that I loved. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful movie sets there is the Cabo de Gata.”
The main scene of the film “You will not get this life again” (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), a multitudinous dance, was recorded in Alájar (Huelva). In it the main song of the film, “Señorita”, is sung and danced, performed by the singer María del Mar Fernández, who, although she did not participate in the filming, became a revelation in India, where the song reached an unprecedented success. The dance also received a prize for the best choreography in the Filmfare gala, which is considered the Oscars of India.
In Setenil de las Bodegas the Indian film director Zoya Akhtar discovered, by chance, a picturesque bar. She liked it so much that, although it was not included in the planning, she decided to shoot a scene of confidences among the three protagonists of ‘You will not get this life again’ the next day.
The scene of Carmen’s death in ‘Callas Forever’ was filmed in Córdoba, specifically in the ‘Christ of the Lanterns’. Two of the members of the choir pretended in their workplace a stomach upset to participate in the shooting. The next day, they were in a front-page photograph under the title of “Actresses from Cordoba for a universal film.”
The ‘Callas forever’ team spent a total of six months in Andalusia, from scouting locations to shooting. The team comprised 100 people and 500 local extras were also hired for three days of filming. The economic impact on Andalusia totalled more than 300,000 euros, including hotels, restaurants, catering, film set construction, equipment rental as well as cleaning and security personnel.
The director of ‘Callas forever’, Franco Zefirelli, stayed at Hotel Palacio Marqués de la Gomera, located in Calle San Pedro, where some scenes were filmed. He only had to look out from the large Baroque balcony of his room to check that the team was working on the set and preparing the next sequence to be filmed.
The gypsy camp scene in ‘Callas forever’ was going to be filmed in Guadix (Granada), but the director, Franco Zefirelli, apparently decided to continue filming in Osuna (Seville) and finally decided to film the scene by a group of prickly pears that, according to the locals, are as old as the Collegiate itself.
Before the filming of ‘Camarón’, the actor who embodied him, Óscar Jaenada, knew nothing about the “cantaor”. However, he grew his hair and steeped in Camarón knowledge, to the point that he walked, talked and smoked like him. In fact, many people in San Fernando used to call him José, the singer’s first name.
‘Camarón’ was filmed in San Fernando, the singer’s hometown. Many neighbours of the city were present at the filming. Such was their presence that, as Jaime Chávarri said in an interview, “the people of San Fernando have opened their hearts to us.” There have been times when someone has approached me and told me, with great respect, that Camarón would not say some things like that because it sounded very ‘payo’ (non-gypsy), and we changed it.”
‘Bread, Love and Andalusia’ is part of a series of films starring Vittorio De Sica and world-class actresses such as Gina Lollobrigida or Sophia Loren. As the shooting was in Andalusia, the heroine of the last film needed to be Spanish. Carmen Sevilla, already a star at that time, was the lucky one.
David Trueba said that although the wind from Cabo de Gata sometimes made it difficult to shoot ‘Living is easy with eyes closed’, he tried to see the positive side and took advantage of it for the film. Javier Cámara remembers some beautiful shots of Natalia de Molina, with her mane in the wind.
The movie ‘Living is easy with eyes closed’ is based on a true story. In the sixties, Juan Carrión, a high school teacher who used the lyrics of the Beatles songs to teach English, met John Lennon, who was filming “How I Won the War” in Almeria, and asked him to include the lyrics of their songs on the covers of their albums. And although Trueba did not want to meet Juan while writing the script to avoid being conditioned, as soon as it was written and the movie started, he sought him out. Carrión, who died a few years after the premiere, “enjoyed the success of the film very much,” according to Trueba. In fact, at the 2014 Goya Awards, the director was accompanied by the teacher, who was able to enjoy how his story received the Goya Award for Best Film
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