Shaping up as one of the most anticipated movies from Spain this year, “Prison 77” (“Modelo 77”) has an international teaser trailer, which Movistar Plus and Atípica Films have shared in exclusivity with Variety.
“Modelo 77” marks the third Movistar Plus feature, re-teaming Telefonica’s pay TV/SVOD service with director Alberto Rodríguez, co-writer Rafael Cobos and co-producer Atípica Films, the driving forces behind “The Plague,” Movistar Plus’ big banner 2017 series.
Sold internationally by Film Factory, “Prison 77” will be released in Spanish theaters by Buena Vista International on Sept. 23, the second Friday of Spain’s San Sebastian Festival, which begs the question as to whether it will feature at the event.
In it, Manuel, a young accountant, played by Miguel Herrán (“Money Heist,” “Elite”), is sent to Barcelona’s legendary Modelo penitentiary pending trial for embezzlement in 1977. The teaser trailer is straight to the point in several ways.
Watch Miguel Herrán in “Prison 77,” but under long curly locks, don’t expect him to look like “Rio” in “Money Heist” or Christian in “Elite.” An actor as well as star, he has twinned Netflix shows with an appreciable and varied independent career, which won him a breakout actor Spanish Academy Goya for his first major role, in Daniel Guzmán’s “A Cambio de nada.” What he may well channel in “Prison 77,” which links him to “Money Heist” and “Elite,” is a certain noble innocence and large sensitivity which will position him as an audience alter ego.
This is a jailbreak thriller: “I want to get out of here,” says Manuel’s cell-mate, ageing con Pino, asking fellow prisoners to stage a riot as a distraction, after the teaser trailer begins with a Bruckheimer-ish thud on its soundtrack and continues cut in the energetic, propulsive manner of an action thriller.
But this is a jailbreak movie based on true events, one of the biggest attempted jail-breaks in Spanish history, in 1977, when 45 inmates attempted to break out from Barcelona’s Modelo penitentiary along a tunnel dug from the jail’s infirmary.
From the teaser’s opening dialogue, where Manuel is charged 300 pesetas, which he doesn’t have, to file a complaint with prison management, this looks like a return by Rodríguez and Cobos to the central theme of their 2015 Goya best picture winning “Marshland,” its 2017 follow-up “Smoke and Mirrors” and TV series “The Plague,” which ran over 2017-19: The push-back and limitations to social progress which has fashioned Spanish history.
“Prison 77” take place as Spain passes an Amnesty Law in October 1977, fruit of a massive trade off by Spain’s ruling regime under dictator Francisco Franco whereby it agreed to give up political power in return for immunity against prosecution for crimes against humanity committed during and after Spain’s Civil War.
The amnesty was extended to ETA. But no sort of amnesty was offered to common law prisoners. As the prison guard implies at the beginning of the trailer, democracy in Spain, installed by general elections in June 1977, benefitted those with money. Manuel for his part can’t even stump up 300 pesetas to register his complaint.