‘Torremolinos ’73’: Applying a coat of beige to fertility, pornography and filmmaking in Franco’s Spain

Though he’s directed only two films in the ten years since his feature debut, Pablo Berger has proven himself one of the most inventive and accomplished filmmakers to come out of Spain in a couple of decades.

Javier Cámara in 'Torremolinos ’73?'

His most recent film Blancanieves, an ingenious re-imagining of the “Snow White” story as a silent-movie melodrama in the 1920s world of bullfighting royalty and flamenco style in Spain, earned ten Goya Awards and was Spain’s official entry for the Oscars. While it generated obligatory comparisons to The Artist—it is, after all, another foreign film that channels the international language of silent movies for modern audiences—it really has more in common with the melodrama of Blood and Sand and Pedro Almodóvar, but with a melancholy love story under all the intrigue.

That committed, authentic romanticism grounds his debut feature Torremolinos ’73, a playful and sexy period piece set during the repressive atmosphere of Franco’s Spain, circa 1973. What a setting for a comedy about pornography, fertility and moviemaking. I first caught the film at a 2004 festival screening and I was completely taken with its gentle satire, its evocation of a time so rarely treated with such humor—and mostly its affection for its characters.

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