Top 5 Films Set in Barcelona


Films Set in Barcelona : The Most Famous Ones

Back in 2010, SuiteLife released their post on the Top 5 Films Set in Barcelona, needless to say it is time for an updated list of films set in Barcelona – as the city is slowly but steadily becoming a popular destination for filmmakers (we know Woody Allen, you love the city first!). Need any proof? Then keep on reading…

1. The Orphanage

films set in barcelona

Or better known as the Orfanato, is a 2007 Spanish horror film by J. A. Bayona. The film stars Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, and Roger Princep. The script was written by Sergio G. Sanchez in 1996 but brought to the attention of Bayona in 2004. Director Guillermo del Toro was asked to help produce the film and to double its buget and filming time.

The film opened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and received critical acclaim from the audiences in its native Spain helping them win seven Goya Awards and North America for the director’s delivery and actors’ performances leading to New Line Cinema bying the rights for an American remake.

Laura (Belen) returns to her childhood home – an orphanage – which she plans to turn into a home for disabled children but after their adopted son Simon (Roger) argues with Laura about his imaginary masked friend named Tomás (with whom he will run away), he vanishes.

The Orphanage is worth watching for their lack of ‘cheap scares’ alone and for being one of the great horror films set in Barcelona.

2. Biutiful

films set in barcelona

In 2010, the Mexican director, producer, and writer, Alejandro González Iñárritu, decided to make a movie set in Barcelona starring Javier Bardem. Unlike the movie of Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ – Biutiful, the story of a man named Uxbal who’s every action is guided by his ability to see his death, shows the audience a side of the city that tourists never get to see.

González also directed the movie ‘Babel’ starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in 2006.

We know that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is one of those classics that will always be featured on everyone lists of best films set in Barcelona because of it’s popularity and romanticism. However, critics have bashed Woody Allen’s darling for just showing Barcelona’s most touristic of places and neglecting to show the darker side no one never get to experience when visiting Barcelona.

3. Rec 1 & 2

films set in barcelonaI first saw the American version of this movie (Quarantine) unknown to me that it was based on both of these movies. Got to admit both versions scared the crap out of me and that is not an easy feat for any movie to achieve.

Rec is a supernatural horror film made back in 2007 by Spanish writers and director Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. The movie is about a reporter documenting the working life of firefighter men during night shift in Barcelona, that night an emergency call takes them to a building which they allow the reporter to tag along  unknown to them, the building is infected with something that the government doesn’t want to spread out of the perimeters. Anybody attempting to escape are shot down immediately, leaving no options to the characters than to fight for their life against the snipers outside and the zombies inside.

The only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was that the camerawork was shaky and used the ‘found footage’ style that has become so over used in horror movies these days but I admit it worked to their advantage as you didn’t get no foreshadowing. Two sequels were released; Rec 2 in 2009 and Rec 3: Genesis in 2012. A third film, Rec 4: Apocalypse, is planned to end the franchise.

4. Buried

films set in barcelona

Kudos for a film that could keep me interested and at the edge of my seat throughout its entire 90 minutes. Not only because Ryan Reynolds plays the leading role in this film but because the creator did a great job considering the movie only has one person and  location – a coffin.

Did I lose you already?

Then here’s a better explanation: Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), an Iraq-based American civilian truck driver, finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin after being attacked with nothing more than a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pen and a mobile phone to help him escape before the oxygen in the coffin runs out.

The movie was directed by Rodrigo Cortes and written by Chris Sparling (who later failed miserably at delivering with his script ‘ATM’). Ironically, the film was shot in two location (beats me why this happened) in Barcelona and America.

5. My Immortal – Evanescence Music Video

films set in barcelona

“Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies. “Ashes, Ashes” We all fall down!”

This video (though it’s not a film but merits to be on the list of films set in Barcelona for it’s artistry and elegance) was shot in a place that could be considered one of Barcelona most sacred places.

It is not a church or any other kind of holly land…but a school where children once played, laughed, and studied. Until one day the goverment dropped a bomb on the playground while the children were out playing. All 40 children were killed.

Today it is called Plaza Neri or Square of the dead. All of this happened during the civil war when Mussolini’s Air Force lent Franco a hand by dropping (literally) the bomb. The holes that scars the walls, were created by the shrapnels of the bomb. The people of Barcelona have never restored to its glory to serve as a reminder of the cruelty that took place here.

It’s funny that I fell in love with Evanescence music video ‘My Immortal’ not knowing the eerie undertone it had. At the beginning she’s seen walking on the fountain while children played soccer. It happens to be, that the video was filmed exactly here – and the children playing represents its history.

Be assured that these will not be the last films set in Barcelona. The Spanish film commision has put in place a tax incentive and collaboration grant to attract filmmakers from around the world. It comes with no suprise that a film is about to go into production in Barcelona starring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem titled the ‘Gun Man’ as I write this article.

~ Argenis

Article Category:

Moving to Barcelona



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