It’s that time of year again, as the stars head for alignment this Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the 86th Academy Awards. Spain has been represented in recent years by quite a few luminaries, including directors Pedro Almodóvar, Néstor Almendros, Carlos Saura, and Luis Buñuel, as well as actors Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. (plus, let’s face it, Antonio Banderas is a gift that keeps on giving, year round). This year there are no biggies of their stature in contention, though we’re certainly rooting for Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), a searing story of child soldiers in Sierra Leone from Esteban Crespo, nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.
However often Spain goes to Hollywood, however, there’s no question that Hollywood loves to come to Spain year in, year out, and has been at it for at least 70 years to film big productions that have included some of the classics of our time. The richness and impact of the country’s scenery and cities alike draw Tinseltown red-carpet royalty like toros to a red cape, whether it’s to capture a running of the bulls for a Tom Cruise actioner, the splendour of the desert for Lawrence of Arabia, the stark beauty of the American West for assorted Westerns, even Russia’s Urals. It’s not just the scenery and variety of climates, but the world-class infrastructure, technical talent, and reliable weather (at least 300 days of sunshine a year).
Following is just a partial list, with their locations:
- The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – Madrid.
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944) – Malaga.
- Clash of the Titans (2010) and Wrath of the Titans (2012) – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
- Cleopatra (1963) – Almería.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982) – Almería, Segovia, Cuenca.
- Die Another Day (2002) – Cádiz
- Doctor Zhivago (1965) – Marquesado de Zenete (Granada).
- El Cid (1960) – Ávila, Burgos, Peñíscola (Valencia), Toledo, León.
- Empire of the Sun (1987) – Cádiz.
- A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965) – Almería.
- 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) – Trujillo (Cáceres), Salamanca, Seville.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – Almería, Carazo (Burgos).
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – Almería, Granada.
- Kingdom of Heaven (2005). Huesca, Palma del Río (Córdoba), Ávila, Seville.
- Knight and Day (2010) – Seville, Cádiz.
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Seville, Almería.
- The Others (2001) – Cantabria.
- Patton (1970) – Almería, Segovia, Madrid.
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – Seville (top).
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) – Barcelona, Oviedo (Asturias).
You can even visit a theme park called Oasys which includes an “Old West” town that was the set for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and For a Few Dollars More. And coming soon, look out for Javier Bardem, Sean Penn, Idris Elba, and others to be banging around Barcelona among other places in a spy action thriller called The Gunman.
Check out this video from the Spanish Film Commission featuring Elijah Wood and showing off some of the cinematic splendours of the country and how they’ve played on the silver screen. So as we say here, “luces, cámara, acción!”