Last year during the lockdown, all of a sudden, there was rage about this Spanish show called Money Heist. Netflix had acquired La Casa De Papel (the Spanish Version) in December 2017 and recut it for the global audience. Since then, it has become one of the most-watched shows of all time. But what was it that Money Heist gave that no other series could? Were the character sketches and the storyline so excellent and unique that the whole world got bewildered?
Let’s look into all these issues and try to understand the phenomenon called Money heist!
A Stylized Narrative
The audio-visual medium can be pretty deceptive at times. You don’t know, but you are being played on at times. The background score, the emotional buildup, and most importantly the character, invoke certain emotions inside the viewer that you fail to see through the technicalities and instead just focus on the gimmicks. Money Heist follows a very stylized narrative. There are guns, there is glamour, and most importantly, there is a larger-than-life conspiracy.
At the helm of affairs stands an imperfectly perfect team. These people are the misfits. They are against an oppressive system. Throughout the narrative, the tone is kept in a way that you never even once feel that they are actually committing a crime. You are made to believe that these robbers are catering to a more significant cause. You presume in a fight against the system, the bad guy is always the system. And then there is a master plan that is too good to be true. For every move, there is a counter move that has been planned already. All the possibilities have been foreseen, and the team is always a step ahead.
It is of its kind robbery where there is no collateral damage. The team is more empathetic as compared to the system. They care for the general population. These misfits might be brute, crooked, or just tacky at times, but deep down, everybody cares and has a prevailing emotional quotient.
A Linear Character Graph
I might be saying the most controversial thing ever, but I believe the character of El Profesor qualifies to become one of the most famous yet linear characters ever. There are no two ways about the fact that he is an aspiration in himself, the perfect man to ever exist. I often end up comparing the character of the Professor to that of Walter White in Breaking Bad.
My problem with Professor’s character is not just the monotonous tonality given by the writers but how one-dimensional the psychological characteristics are created to be. There are no convolutions, which is why it takes that character away from reality. There is no depth in character. I often call it the “mirage depth.” It is an illusion. To a normal eye, it will seem like the waters are not only dark but profound too. But it is not the case.
If you see Walter White, you see layers. Layers that start peeling off. There is an arc that slowly takes its route. There are fears, insecurities, and a myriad of other psychological behaviors that makes a character worthy of being called somewhat close to reality. The more the detailing, the more it comes closer to life. For me, the character of El Professor lacked that detailing. It lacked that 3D touch that is so important for leaving an impact. It arouses your senses and taps into that quintessential alter ego that we all have in common.
Significance of Bella Ciao
Bella Ciao has always had a great significance in the culture and history of Europe. Using that song made sure that the heist became something more magnanimous than what it was actually. It was not just a robbery now. It became a sort of protest against the system. It turned a bank robbery into a noble affair.
Bella Ciao came back in trend. The makers knew what had clicked among the audience, and they used it in the best possible manner. Not denying the fact that it does strike a chord and gives you goosebumps whenever you see Berlin and Professor toasting on that song. Bella Ciao became a vital tool for providing credibility to the characters’ actions, which actually were atypical in nature.
Money Heist, for me, would always be like an amazingly well-painted wall, with abstract paintings connoting note-worthy philosophies and declaring a rebellion. Still, once you go beyond that wall, you find that the room had nothing more to offer.
Money Heist is a 2017 Spanish Drama Thriller Television Series created by Alex Pina. It is streaming on Netflix.