In 1972, a television medium-length film shocked Spanish viewers for whom their relationship with phone booths changed radically. The picture of José Luis López Vázquez imprisoned in a cubicle of those made of glass and red iron -Although most viewers could not appreciate the color on their televisions still in black and white- it generated great concern in everyone who needed to make a call on the street. Now that the mobile has ended up extinguishing the booths throughout Spain, Madrid has decided to lift one of them in the Madrid street of Arapiles, as a tribute to Antonio Mercero’s telefilm. The inauguration took place this Wednesday with representatives of the Madrid City Council, Telefónica and the Film Academy, as well as relatives of Mercero, and David Linares, scriptwriter and promoter of this initiative. Linares recalled that “this cabin was born from a tweet”, in 2018, when the film and television director born in Lasarte (Guipúzkoa) died in Madrid in 1936.
The idea of paying homage to the director of other works that remain in the collective memory such as ‘Verano Azul’, ‘Farmacia de Guardia’ or ‘Crónicas de un pueblo’ was consolidated on the change.org platform, and was later approved by the City Council of Madrid, which, according to Linares, heard “a citizen proposal, which it has made its own, has pampered and has made reality.” Linares has also appreciated the unanimity that he garnered among all the groups.
Madrid, city of cinema
The booth has finally been installed, very close to the small square in the Chamberí district where the famous film was filmed, and which stands on top of a pedestal on which the following message has been inscribed: “The Madrid City Council, as a tribute to the film ‘La Cabin’ and its director, Antonio Mercero, for their contribution to making Madrid a film city and a cultural benchmark “.
Ignacio Mercero, son of the filmmaker who has spoken on behalf of the family, has been delighted. “And even more so seeing the wonder of the replica that the Fundación Telefónica has made,” whom he thanked, as well as Linares, the Film Academy and the Madrid City Council, “both to the previous government and to this one.”
For his son, the director had “the amazing quality of catching the pulse of each viewer”, of “transmitting universal and timeless values”. “You just have to see ‘Verano Azul’, which is still seen 40 years later, or ‘The cabin’, which is still seen 50 years later, or ‘Farmacia de Guardia'”.
The film, which lasts just over half an hour and is available on the RTVE website, was directed in 1972 by Antonio Mercero, with a script written with José Luis Garci. It aired for the first time on Spanish Television on December 13 and a year later, in 1973, it won an International Emmy Award for the best telefilm and a Silver Photogram for the best television interpreter for its protagonist.
A protagonist without a name – and without a voice for most of the footage to add to the the feeling of isolation- embodied by José Luis López Vázquez, who is seen locked in a newly installed phone booth in a square, before the humorous gaze of an increasingly large and traditional group of curious people, and before the unsuccessful attempts of a great variety of people who try to help him using skill or force. But all is in vain and some workers end up moving the cabin by road on a journey in which the protagonist begins to foreshadow the dark end to which he is doomed.
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