“Ah, my hungry dogs, after my bones,” grizzled family patriarch Abraham Guerrero, who controls Spain’s cocaine trade, greets his second son, Tomás, in the first episode of “Gigantes.” But this dog has news: Daniel, his older brother, has set up his own drug business. Abraham and Tomás shop Daniel to the police as Daniel organizes an attempt on Tomas’ pregnant wife’s life, which causes her to lose the baby. By the beginning of episode two, when Daniel comes out of jail 10 years’ vengeance is served.
A brutal six-part crime clan saga, “Gigantes” is produced by Movistar + and Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson’s Lazona Producciones (“Spanish Affair”) and sold at Mipcom by Paris-based About Premium Content.
World premiering at September’s San Sebastian Film Festival, “Gigantes” marks one of Movistar’s biggest and most compulsive-viewing fall plays. It has already been renewed for a second season, which is being shot like a film, Urbizu said at San Sebastian. Indeed, “Gigantes” suggests that in Spain, some of its most creative film work is now being carried out in television.
That comes with its showrunners.“Gigantes” is shaped by the artistic personality of movie director Enrique Urbizu, its co-writer and co-director, who swept Spain’s 2011 Academy Awards with “No Rest for the Wicked.”
Urbizu inherited the story outline from actor Manuel Gancedo. He added an opening episode that acts as an origins story, showing how Abraham trains his three sons in heartless violence, absolute power, the subjugation, humiliation or obliteration of rivals by money or force.
That allowed Urbizu, he says, to mix things up. Episode 2 has a more straight action scenario. The third ep opens out into a corruption thriller, featuring a police chief and a judge instructing an investigation into the Guerreros, both cop and judge on Tomás’ payroll.
“Gigantes” is shot in 2:35 aspect ratio and with anamorphic lenses, capturing a sense of characters whose values, as in autumnal Westerns, belong to a bygone age. Urbizu used 95% of his regular film crew on the series, he says.
As with other Movistar + series, “Gigantes” is grounded in Spain: Madrid’s Rastro flea market, its rambunctious Lavapies multi-ethnic melting pot, and upscale Serrano art-gallery district.
Underscoring Movistar’s drive for production value, the series used more locations in its first episode, according to Urbizu, than the whole of “No Rest for the Wicked.”
Above all, as the number of high-end dramas rises exponentially in international markets, “Gigantes” shows Movistar + “learning to take riskier formal decisions,” says Domingo Corral, director of original fiction. “The public’s increasingly sophisticated. You can’t make series like you did even four years ago,” he adds.
So “Gigantes” is incident-packed, uses constant ellipses, its characters constantly on the move, the pace near vertiginous, Urbizu said at San Sebastian. Psychological observance builds over the six episodes. It’s only in the last of season one that the audience is allowed to enter Daniel’s mind to confirm how deep the hurt Abraham has caused him, how, even after Abraham’s death, he is still trying to meet his father’s expectations as a brutal, rabid, heartless son.
The sons try to distance themselves from Abraham’s legacy, even physically, leaving Madrid, actor Daniel Grao who plays Tomás Guerrero said at San Sebastian. But they have the Guerrero poison in their blood, he added.
No straight mob melodrama, “Gigantes” finally seems a tragedy of filial love. Episode one is set over three time- periods straddling 20 years. The real serial kicks off in the second ep, 10 years later. Times change, “Gigantes” temporal transitions appear to be saying. But people change more slowly.
Jamie Lang contributed to this report.