A research study examines the image of Madrid as a film location
UC3M/DICYT A Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) research project has analyzed aspects of the relation between the geographic and cinematographic space in audiovisual productions filmed in the Madrid Regional Community, aimed at drawing attention to how it has changed over time and highlighting the capital´s image as a setting in film productions.
Within the project’s framework, three routes have been designed, with backing from the City of Madrid Film Office and the Madrid Business Forum. These three proposals have three distinct objectives: “21 películas para 21 distritos” (21 films for 21 districts) links each district to a fictional full-length film, “El Madrid de Edgar Neville” (Edgar Neville’s Madrid) analyzes the capital’s presence in this filmmaker’s work, and “Un paseo de cine. De Atocha a Plaza de España” (A cinematic stroll. From Atocha to Plaza España) revolves around some of the capital’s most recognized and emblematic urban focal points, used on numerous occasions in national as well as international productions.
The project, in addition to locating the scenes, analyzes them according to their length, revealing Gran Via as the street with the most cinematographic presence, followed by Cibeles, the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta de Alcala. However, certain changes can be perceived over time: as new urban spaces have been created, the number of these film settings have diminished. “As the city has grown, attention has shifted to other areas, also due to cinema’s commitment to narrating different stories. With “Cine Quinqui” (Petty Thief Cinema) in the 1970’s, and later as of the 2000’s, the city’s periphery began to be represented from a more social perspective, and accordingly other small icons emerged, such as the area of “Las Colmenas” (The Beehives) in Ciudad Lineal, constituting a symbol of the peripheral city,” pointed out by Paula Bordonada, PhD student in the UC3M Department of Communication.
“Film conditions the collective imagination associated with geographic space, but also contributes to giving unknown or lesser-known urban or natural locales greater visibility, so that they become known to the populace. This generates a different kind of link between residents and their communities fomenting niche tourism, and in some way it can serve as an incentive for its maintenance or improvement,” explained the Geocine principal investigator, Carlos Manuel Valdés, professor in the UC3M Department of Humanities, History, Geography and Art.
The research team has worked with more than 300 films and identified and georeferenced more than 2,000 scenes which are the source for the web map viewer included in the project webpage. To locate films shot in the Madrid Regional Community, they use information published by IMDb, film offices and specialized bibliography along with full viewing of the films. “The inventory depends a good deal on the film’s repercussions, information provided by the production teams or the date of shooting, so that quite often we see new films being added,” Valdés concluded.
Currently, the research group is examining the presence of other Spanish cities in audiovisual fiction and undertaking specific studies, such as analyzing Spanish movies filmed in the Lavapiés neighborhood throughout history, or how specific settings, such as the Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores street, are established as symbols of the neighborhood itself and of the traditional and authentic Madrid.