The romance between Almería and Cinema started nearly 70 years ago, and since then there have been more than 420 shootings,including documentaries, short films, spots or video clips.
In this post I shall focus on a bunch of those movies, 10 specifically, and the rule I follow is basically to select those that we feel closer,either because Almería and their landscapes are as much a part of it, regardless of whether the homeland of Indalo represents itself, either because many almerians took part, or because their filming were felt deeply in our land, in some cases marking different generations. Because who hasn't ever heard of the construction of the "false" Aqaba by Carboneras,or the presence of the American tanks in the Cathedral Square,or of the Conan Cave... places, moments and characters that are part of our collective memory, and have contributed to the myth of Almeria as a Land of Cinema.
This indispensable list goes beyond the spaghetti western.since it contains a variety of genres, times and styles. As about movies & Almería there's so much to write, I think I'd better divide the post in 2 parts,so there it goes the first five films…
10. Martin (Hache) (1997)
This might be the typical and the film itself that we wouldn't consider as one of our favorites, although when someone reminds you of it, it probably comes to mind with whom and when you first saw it, which is not the case with all of them. And that's because this Spanish-Argentinean co-production of sharp dialogues and incompatible and tormented characters does not go unnoticed.
On this occasion Almeria plays at itself,as the second part of the film takes place in an outstanding villa in Discover magic MojácarThere is where the main quartet, led by Argentine filmmaker Martín (Federico Luppi), his partner Alicia (Cecilia Roth), Hache, son of Martin (J. Diego Botto) and Dante, Martin's best friend (Eusebio Poncela) gathered as a runaway from Madrid. It will be there, in Macenas Beach,where the characters seem to reach happiness for a while, in this brightness Mediterranean shelter.
9. 800 bullets (2002)
The best tribute to the of the golden years of the western,or rather to the extras who lived out their glory days riding alongside Eastwood, Van Cleef, Fonda or Lancaster. It had to be the restless and recognized Alex de la Iglesia,the spanish filmaker closest to Tarantino , the one who remember to pay a sincere homage to those bit players of the spaghetti western.For which nothing better than leading the cast with someone who had also lived better days galloping through the andalusian mountains, blunderbuss in hand, as Sancho Gracia, who was surrounded by a remarkable cast with Carmen Maura, Ángel de Andrés and Eusebio Poncela.
Although the and the film itselfmight be considered as a comedy, it is full of a nostalgic taste. Its filmingwas felt enormously and the people of Almería took part on it, as in the exciting scene on which the riders pass by the Grand Hotel.
Of course, most of the action takes place in Fort Bravo set (Desert of Tabernas,) and despite the insistent rumors, Clint finally did not come for the final shots... however, he missed it!
8. The Wind and the Lion (1975)
This enjoyable adventure movie, set in North Africa, was shot entirely in Spain and featured the former milkman from Edinburgh, Sean Connery,the male-star who has filmed the most in Almeria (up to five times).
Among the remarkable natural settings of the province (Genoveses and Mónsul beaches,Cabo de Gata dunes, Gérgal), it´s worth the choice of La Fabriquilla for the film's most spectacular sequence, where the magic and artifice of cinema are shown: the final battle, in which around 1000 people took part and for which houses, walls and a minaret had previously been built.
Other locations that looked magnificent were the city itself,with the port (simulating that of Tangier and where the scene of the Marines landing was taken), the Nicolás Salmerón Park and Atarazanas Street (the Provincial Assembly of the Red Cross represented the US Embassy), the Góngora's cottage (as the villa of the protagonist, the beautiful widow Eden Pedecaris) or the second enclosure of the Alcazaba (as the residence of Raisuli, where an Islamic temple was built).
7. Living is easy with the eyes closed (2013)
This spanish production , starring Javier Cámara,proves how Almería encourages creativity and promotes the most unsuspected achievements.
It is about the stay in these areas of John Lennon in 1966, while filming How I won the war, a British comedy about World War II, set in North Africa (actually Mesa Roldán, Tabernas or the dunes of Cabo de Gata). And it is that the shooting of this movie wasmore important for the XXth century´s popular cultura than for the history of cinema, since it gave us two unforgattables memories: the first one is how the beach of Carboneras inspired the beatle to compose Strawberry fields forever,one of the mythical tracks of the Liv´sfabulous four. The second is the beautiful story that starred Juan Carrion,a tenacious English school-teacher who came to Almería from Cartagena, determined to meet Lennon and tell him how he managed to use the lyrics of The Beatles for teach English. Impressed, John agretted to get him things easier, and in 1967 Sgt. Pepper's lonely hearts club band was the first pop-rock album ever which contained the lyrics. This is the story on which Living is easy with eyes closed is based on, a lovely movie that took six goyas (spanish cinema academy awards) in 2014.
6. Exodus; Gods and Kings (2014)
The biopic on Moses run by the awarded Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator...) and produced by the Fox,meant again the meeting of Almería with the greatest productions and, by the way, the rebirth of a pride that we thought was lost; feeling again as a world cinema landmark. In adittion, it allowed the youngest, like me, to attend at last a large shooting in Almeria.We'd finally have our battle to tell!
Once again it was possible to find a star in any corner, or bar, of the city (as it happened when I came across with Ridley Scott in the Cathedral Square!), contracts came again for all kinds of workers (carpenters, make-up artists ...) & again the massive castings came out; thus, the requirement of 4,000 extras spread the joy throughout the province, with more than 28,000 people turning up for the selection tests.
Filmed in various locations (the Llano del Búho in Tabernas, the Macael quarries or the Rodalquilar mines) was undoubtedly the site of El Chorrillo,on the slopes of Alhamilla Range,what we´d always link with this Hollywood mega-production, since five sets depicting the Ancient Egypt, were built over there. . One of them, the ghetto,still stands up, having recently been used for other shoots (such as the sixth season of Game of Thrones,which was also filmed in Almería).