Prison 77 Review

Alberto Rodríguez is on the safe side by adding the prison movie to the civil passion that arises from true events, but his film is anything but a work that plays off the fence. .The review of Prison 77 by Federico Gironi.

Let’s say this time alberto rodriguez (who is also a good one: see his the minimal island to believe) played decidedly on the safe side, since the pairing prison movie + civil engagement based on real historical events could hardly give a negative result.
A bet won from the start, in short, that of Jail 77, It is true. But it is also true that if one is good (and we said that Rodríguez it is), manages not only to make a decent film, an almost guaranteed minimum result, but also to give it some extra thickness. And therefore of quality.

The original title of Jail 77 And Model 77: where the “modelo” is the prison of Barcelona which is the scene of almost all the events of the film, and 77 stands for 1977, the year in which the events of a young accountant who was accused (perhaps unjustly , maybe not) that he had stolen a rather negligible amount and that for this he was thrown in jail. Except that, being precisely ’77, Spain is just starting to emerge from the Franco season, and if some things are changing outside, in prison everything still works as it once did.
As, moreover, in a thousand other films set in prison past and present. And so there is talk of inhuman conditions, of violence by the guards, of rapacity between prisoners, of directors, if not sadistic, conniving
At that time Prison 77 is not only the story of Manuel who tries to understand if and when he will be subjected to a fair trial, and therefore will leave prison, but that of his growing awareness of what it means to live in a prison, survive in a prison, and of the injustices that take place there, and of his participation in a protest movement that really existed which, inside and outside those walls, will try to bring Spain, including prisons, into democracy and into the future.

Things won’t be easy for Manuel. Obviously, he will have a mentor: Pino, a veteran of the prison. Who, like all of his mentors, will initially be reluctant to fill this role, and even to take part in the protest movement. But then, of course, he’ll change his mind. About Manuel and the protest.
The story of Manuel and Pino, which begins in February 1976, three months after Franco’s death, and ends in June 1978, is punctuated by all those moments and situations that are typical and inevitable for a prison film , but the difference between Rodríguez’s work and other more or less similar titles and of having created an “invisible” dialectic (invisible since the rest of us never leave prison, just as our protagonists never leave) between an inside and an exterior that are separated not only by physical barriers, and by limitations on personal freedom, but by a transformation that, if it seems to proceed almost expeditiously outside, inside the prison is substantially alien.
And in the way in which Rodríguez concludes the story of Manuel and Pino, the fate he bestows on these two characters of his is emblematic, even more than the placards that conclude the story, of the utopia of a movement, and of the failures of politics.

But, historical-political positioning aside, what it is remarkable in Jail 77 is also his continuous skirting of all the clichés, clichés and stereotypes of the prison movie without ever getting bogged down in the swamps of rhetoric that they can represent; using the inescapable truth they tell without ever turning into a fake and banal story.
Such a thing is done by paying attention to the writing, and to the details; moving the camera properly, making the spaces available infinite or claustrophobic; casting actors who, as in this case, are capable of saying more than what their lines contain. It is done by exploiting the rules and dynamics of genre cinema – the prison genre, of course, but also the thriller, and even the political thriller – to accompany the civil passion, which is thus exalted, and does not engulf the rest.
And the fact that Prigione 77 has won five all “technical” Goyas (production, scenography, costumes, make-up and hairdressing, special effects), demonstrates Rodríguez’s great attention to all that cinema is and does.

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