Money Heist (2017)
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The series was conceived by screenwriter Álex Pina and director Jesús Colmenar during their years of collaboration since 2008. After finishing their work on the Spanish prison drama Locked Up (Vis a vis), they left Globomedia to set up their own production company, named Vancouver Media, in 2016. For their first project, they considered either filming a comedy or developing a heist story for television, with the latter having never been attempted before on Spanish television. Along with former Locked Up colleagues,[d] they developed Money Heist as a passion project to try new things without outside interference. Pina was firm about making it a limited series, feeling that dilution had become a problem for his previous productions.
Initially entitled Los Desahuciados (The Evicted) in the conception phase, the series was developed to subvert heist conventions and combine elements of the action genre, thrillers and surrealism, while still being credible. Pina saw an advantage over typical heist films in that character development could span a considerably longer narrative arc. Characters were to be shown from multiple sides to break the viewers' preconceptions of villainy and retain their interest throughout the show. Key aspects of the planned storyline were written down at the beginning, while the finer story beats were developed incrementally to not overwhelm the writers. Writer Javier Gómez Santander compared the writing process to the Professor's way of thinking, \"going around, writing down options, consulting engineers whom you cannot tell why you ask them that,\" but noted that fiction allowed the police to be written dumber when necessary.
The beginning of filming was set for January 2017, allowing for five months of pre-production. The narrative was split into two parts for financial considerations. The robbers' city-based code names, which Spanish newspaper ABC compared to the colour-based code names in Quentin Tarantino's 1992 heist film Reservoir Dogs, were chosen at random in the first part, although places with high viewership resonance were also taken into account for the new robbers' code names in part 3. The first five lines of the pilot script took a month to write, as the writers were unable to make the Professor or Moscow work as narrator. Ultimately, Tokyo was chosen as an unreliable narrator. Flashbacks and time-jumps increased the narrative complexity and made the story more fluid for the audience. The pilot episode required over 50 script versions until the producers were satisfied. Later scripts would be finished once per week to keep up with filming.
Parts 3 and 4 were also filmed back-to-back, with 21 to 23 filming days per episode. Netflix announced the start of filming on 25 October 2018, and filming of part 4 ended in August 2019. In 2018, Netflix had opened their first European production hub in Tres Cantos near Madrid for new and existing Netflix productions; main filming moved there onto a set three times the size of the set used for parts 1 and 2. The main storyline is set in the Bank of Spain in Madrid, but the exterior was filmed at the Ministry of Development complex Nuevos Ministerios. A scene where money is dropped from the sky was filmed at Callao Square. Ermita de San Frutos in Carrascal del Río served as the exterior of the Italian monastery where the robbers plan the heist. The motorhome scenes of the Professor and Lisbon were filmed at the deserted Las Salinas beaches in Almería to make the audience feel that the characters are safe from the police although their exact location is undisclosed at first. Underwater scenes inside the vault were filmed at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom. The beginning of part 3 was also filmed in Thailand, on the Guna Yala islands in Panama, and in Florence, Italy, which helped to counter the claustrophobic feeling of the first two parts, but was also an expression of the plot's global repercussions. Filming for the fifth and final season concluded on 14 May 2021.
The Italian anti-fascist song \"Bella ciao\" plays multiple times throughout the series and accompanies two emblematic key scenes: at the end of the first part the Professor and Berlin sing it in preparation for the heist, embracing themselves as resistance against the establishment, and in the second part it plays during the thieves' escape from the Mint, as a metaphor for freedom. Regarding the use of the song, Tokyo recounts in one of her narrations, \"The life of the Professor revolved around a single idea: Resistance. His grandfather, who had fought against the fascists in Italy, taught him the song, and he taught us.\" The song was brought to the show by writer Javier Gómez Santander. He had listened to \"Bella ciao\" at home to cheer him up, as he had grown frustrated for not finding a suitable song for the middle of part 1. He was aware of the song's meaning and history and felt it represented positive values. \"Bella ciao\" became a summer hit in Europe in 2018, mostly due to the popularity of the series and not the song's grave themes.
Part 3 begins three years after the heist on the Royal Mint of Spain, showing the robbers enjoying their lives paired-up in diverse locations. However, when Europol captures Rio with an intercepted phone, the Professor picks up Berlin's old plans to assault the Bank of Spain to force Europol to hand over Rio to prevent his torture. He and Raquel (going by \"Lisbon\") get the gang, including Mónica (going by \"Stockholm\"), back together, and enlist three new members: Palermo, Bogotá and Marseille, with Palermo in charge. Flashbacks to the Professor and Berlin outline the planned new heist and their different approaches to love. The disguised robbers sneak into the heavily guarded bank, take hostages and eventually gain access to the gold and state secrets. At the same time, the Professor and Lisbon travel in an RV and then an ambulance while communicating with the robbers and the police. The robbers thwart a police breach of the bank, forcing the police, led by Colonel Luis Tamayo and pregnant inspector Alicia Sierra, to release Rio to the robbers. Nairobi is injured by a police sniper's shot to the chest. With another police assault on the bank coming, and believing Lisbon has been executed by the police, the Professor radios Palermo and declares DEFCON 2. The robbers respond by firing a rocket at the armored police vehicle that is advancing on the bank, turning the robbers from folk heroes to killers in the eyes of the public. Part 3 concludes by showing Lisbon alive and in custody, and Tokyo narrating that the Professor had fallen for a trap. She concludes that because of the Professor's miscalculation, \"the war had begun.\"
Part 5 Volume 1 begins with Sierra finding the Professor and knocking him out, then tying him up and interrogating him. After Lisbon enters the bank, the gang prepares for an attack by troops of the Spanish army. The gang captures Gandia, then frees him rather than killing him. Gandia wants to exact revenge on the gang, so Tamayo has him join the assault by the soldiers. After finding out the Professor has been caught but that Sierra has not notified the police, Lisbon tells the gang they will not give up. Benjamin and Marseille find the Professor, and Sierra knocks them out and ties them up. When Sierra struggles to deliver her baby, she frees the Professor, Marseille, and Benjamin so they can help. Sierra gives birth to a daughter, whom she names Victoria. Arturo Roman, a hostage in both the Royal Mint and the Bank of Spain, had an affair with Stockholm before the first heist, and Arturo's reminders anger Denver. When Arturo, the governor of the bank, and other hostages start a rebellion, Stockholm shoots Arturo, who is released so he can receive medical care. In a flashback, Berlin convinces his son Rafael to help him steal 12 kilograms of gold with Tatiana, Bogota, and Marseille. In the present, the gang starts fighting the soldiers, with Helsinki sustaining a severe injury. Stockholm feels guilt over shooting Arturo, who is her son's birth father, and takes morphine while nursing Helsinki, which leaves her unable to aid in the gang's defense against the attacking soldiers. Part 5 Volume 1 concludes with Tokyo sacrificing herself to defeat Gandia and the soldiers.
The series was noted for its subversions of the heist genre. While heist films are usually told with a rational male Anglo-centric focus, the series reframes the heist story by giving it a strong Spanish identity and telling it from a female perspective through Tokyo. The producers regarded the cultural identity as an important part of the personality of the series, as it made the story more relatable for viewers. They also avoided adapting the series to international tastes, which helped to set it apart from the usual American TV series and raised international awareness of Spanish sensibilities. Emotional dynamics like the passion and impulsivity of friendship and love offset the perfect strategic crime for increased tension. Nearly all main characters, including the relationship-opposing Professor, eventually succumb to love, for which the series received comparisons to telenovelas. Comedic elements, which were compared to Back to the Future and black comedy, also offset the heist tension. The heist film formula is subverted by the heist starting straight after the opening credits instead of lingering on how the gang is brought together.
With the relative number of female main characters in TV shows generally on the rise, the series gives female characters the same attention as men, which the BBC regarded as an innovation for Spanish television. While many plot lines in the heist series still relate to males, the female characters become increasingly aware of gender-related issues, such as Mónica arguing in part 3 that women, just like men, could be robbers and a good parent. Critics further examined feminist themes and a rejection of machismo in the series through Nairobi and her phrase \"The matriarchy begins\" in part 2, and a comparative scene in part 3, where Palermo claims a patriarchy in a moment that, according to CNET, is played for laughs. La Vanguardia challenged any female-empowering claims in the series, as Úrsula Corberó (Tokyo) was often shown scantily clad, and Esquire criticized how characters' relationship problems in part 3 were often portrayed to be the women's fault. Alba Flores (Nairobi) saw no inherent feminist plot in the series, as women only take control when it suits the story, whilst Esther Acebo (Mónica) described any feminist subtext in the show as not being vindicative. 59ce067264