By Stuart Mitchner
In Money Heist, feelings, fraternity and love are as important as the plots. A perfect heist, rational and cool, becomes something else when spiced up with Latin emotions.
In this season of death and discontent, why do I find myself compulsively whistling, humming, thinking, and feeling the old anti-fascist protest anthem, “Bella Ciao”? Even the cardinals in our backyard are getting into the act; instead of sweet sweet sweet, I’m hearing ciao ciao ciao! The pure and piercing clarity of the sound conveys another message, not goodbye beautiful, but hello hello hello.
The source of my “Bella Ciao” euphoria is the Netflix sensation Money Heist [Casa del Papel], whose recently released fourth season drew 65 million viewers around the world. By early 2018, when Álex Pina’s creation was already the most-watched non-English language series in Netflix history, and one of the most watched overall, the singing of “Bella Ciao” at key moments in the action inspired an international onslaught of cover versions.
“A Cultural Juggernaut”
The most informative account of Money Heist I’ve been able to find is in the April 2, 2020 Guardian (“It’s pure rock’n’roll”), where after hailing “a world-changing, cultural juggernaut of a TV show,” Ellen Jones writes, “The first season of the full-throttle thriller saw its gang – all code-named after major cities and memorably clad in revolutionary-red overalls and Salvador Dalí masks – break into the Royal Mint of Spain taking 67 people hostage and literally printing money: 2.4 billion euros, to be exact.”
Referring to the series’ “anti-system” philosophy, invoked whenever gang members sing “Bella Ciao,” Jones quotes Álex Pina: “First and foremost, the series is meant to entertain, but an idea runs underneath. Skepticism towards governments, central banks, the system.” After pointing out the series’ roots in Don Quixote (“To rise up against the system is reckless and idealistic”), Pina claims the latest season has the power to “infuse some oxygen into this disturbing climate,” comparing it to “a brutal journey to the limit” while promising that “the audience will not think of Covid-19 while watching it.” more