Monday, December 01, 2008


7:35 de la Mañana
Dir. Nacho Vigalondo, Spain 2002, 8:02min
Source: and YouTube

Generally, I have a problem with directors who decide to be the main character of their films. I think they can have stronger pieces when they concentrate their energy on writing the script and directing the rest of the cast (cameos are ok). But, Nacho Vigalondo and his 7:35 de la Mañana (7:35 here on) are making me reconsider that, at least for shorts.

In 7:35 El Tipo (the guy) is played by Vigalondo himself, El Tipo decided that the best way to get the attention of La Mujer was to serenade her with an original song. Good idea. As the song moves through the stances, we realize that the people in the café are being held hostage and forced to sing and dance. Not a good idea. At the end, El Tipo stands in front of the door while singing “but like the best things in life this song begins and this song ends”, he walks out to face the cops and blows him self up. Terrible idea.

But Vigalondo’s idea (decision) to be El Tipo is, after all, not so terrible. For a short that relies so much on performance, he took a big risk. El Tipo needed to be different yet similar to the customer-hostages, i.e. a normal guy who buys his coffee every day at 7:35am and who can blend in enough that he can stalk La Mujer. The customer-hostages are all as stiff as can be and while there’s still certain awkwardness or nervousness in El Tipo, his movement flows with the also tongue-tied tune.

When it comes to describing the short some people say that it is funny, hilarious, etc., and others say that while it is funny, there is something that is off, that they can’t quite point at, tongue-tied themselves. I had almost the same feeling and I attribute it to the song, and the short’s ending. 7:35 is a musical and as such we want it to be happy, a full-fledged act but that is denied to us. The hostages are not happy, and it certainly does not end on a happy note. We want to see the color of the confetti as it rains over La Mujer, but the lack of color is just making it more poignant.

In away the intensity of its poignancy, the sweet-and-sour aftertaste will depend on the viewer’s knowledge and how they interpret the film. Personally, knowing that this film is from El Pais Vasco, and that the vasc region has dealt with terrorist attacks and suicide bombers since the late 50s, plus, knowing about the March 11 Madrid attacks adds a political commentary to it. And, while I don’t think it was Vigalondo’s intent to make a political film, he does have the background and the parallelism is undeniable. But, had I seen 7:35 at its release in 2002 I would probably have seen it more as a commentary on the loss of the sense of community in the Spanish culture. The “cafeterias” are common in Spain, kind of your local coffee shop but as El Tipo sings people seems to be “always in hurry, and always alone” moving more towards tall-skim-caramel-macchiato rush out the door style. But aside from the political or social commentary readings of the film, I agree with some of the comments on the first post about the film that it is ingenious thus deserving to be revisited this week.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! either political or social who can tell that what it is most important in a daily basic day is a crazy guy who wants to be seen. Nobody cares about the same common people who goes to the same coffe store everyday. This is what Nacho Vigalondo did, he wanted to give his point of view as I said before, political or social and indeed he captured my attention.

Benito said...

First and foremost this film has a very European feel. Full of subtle cultural messages that seek (in my opinion) to express a love/ hate relationship the average person has with society and life in a country like Spain.

Crazy is not always bad, but when the crazy turns out to be a desperate individual who will do harm to others in his moment of desperation and frustration it takes a dark turn. It is no less very interesting how the film creates such a carefree expression of what people think and feel in a coffee shop and then so easily changes the feelings of the viewer by turning a odd man into a crazy terrorist or freedom fighter (depending on where you're coming from).

Very interesting indeed.

Anonymous said...

Crazy... but with some deep melancholy truth.

Anonymous said...

Christy - When I first saw the woman call the cops I thought, "She is over-reacting a bit. He's just a creative guy who was lucky to get customers to help him sing a song to her." The fact that I thought anything at all, when I usually just zone out while watching films, shows that the director made the film in such a way that I was engaged from the very beginning. Of course, a few moments later I was glad she called the cops and hoped that neither she nor the innocent customers would be hurt by this lunatic. At the end of the film I saw glad that no one, except El Tipo, was hurt, but also thought, "What a waste of someone so creative" when he blew himself up.

I also noticed that I became curious about every single customer in the cafe: are the young boys on their way to school? What other hardships have the older couple been through in life just be possibly have their life cut short by a crazy, love sick lunatic. Does La Mujer have a boyfriend? Will the cafe workers keep working their after this incident? The only person I don't wonder about is El Tipo himself, as I just write him off as mental.

joi said...

what a tragic story--
so many things to think about!
how long was el tipo there in the cafe before la mujer got there? what did he say to them to get them to cooperate? how long did they have to reherse? and what about any new people trying to get into the cafe before la mujer arrived?
how quickly she realized that something was off-which shows her familiarity to the cafe and her good observation skills (obviously not self absorbed)..
what were they all thinking as they sat there listening to his song?? and why would that one man risk his life by hesitating to read/sing his line?
and yes---what a terrible waste of talent and creativity! it would be so cool and flattering to have someone write a song for me! (only, i would hope the ending would be different...)

Estuardo said...

Creo que lo genial de 7.35am es que Vigalondo a pesar de ser un corto no se anda por las ramas, es decir, la historia es clara y directa. Generalmente los cortos tienen algo de intriga, un mucho conceptualismo, dejando al publico mucho en que pensar pero aqui no, con 8min, una hora en el desayuno, una muchacha y unos cuantos comensales la trama esta clara.

Por otro lado, lei en el blog de Vigalondo (creo) que no muy le gustaban los musicales, pero realmente podemos ver a 7.35am como un musical? mas bien creo que es como la De-costrucción del musical (perdón por los términos arquitectónicos), porque generalmente en los musicales la gente arranca a cantar de pronto y casi sin sentido, aquí no, lo hace porque todo lo que ha montado incluyendo las bombas es por un propósito claro, dar una serenata.

Como era de esperar, sale mal.

Politico? no creo, el hecho de que sea Vasco no quiere decir que los Vascos están siempre pensando en ETA.

pd. la cafetería es un encanto, es como ir a Pamplona en el parque central.

Pamela said...

No creo q el corto no sea intensionalmente politico, ni creo q los Vascos piensen en ETA todo el dia. Lo q si creo es q ETA y los ataques es algo mas mistico para nosotros que para ellos que se han acostrumbrado a vivir con ellos. Creo q lo politico es una lectura que nosotros imponemos en el corto.
Me fascina tu idea de la deconstruccion del musical... next paper?

Pd: ya me dieron ganas de ir a Pamplona.

ParaguaSHo said...

Well, for me, aside political considerations that can certainly be found in the film, it is all about La Mujer.
She realizes she is been loved. At first she only notices the funny details... but progressively she realizes that everybody is involved in this love and that she has been observed--stalked--for a while.
She freaks out, what it is going on it is too big for her to understand and react.
She wants to get rid of El Tipo, because realizing that she has been observed and that a lot of people was trying to convey the interest of El Tipo on her make her feel that she is not in control of her life...
She does not say anything, she does not approach El Tipo, she just freak out and let him die...
I would have loved to hear a "Para, ?c'omo te llam'as?" But no, she is afraid of love...
Are you La MUjer?

Alli B said...

This goes from kind of cute and funny to horrifying in 2 seconds flat. Politics aside, I think it works on the level of addressing how we all think we want someone to give us that big romantic gesture out of a movie...but in reality anyone who would actually make those gestures would have to be totally insane.

Sarah said...

Great film. Although I agree, I didn’t find it funny at all. It has some absurd moments that can make you smile, but even when the entire coffee shop is jumping around like crazy or trying to read the lines they have written on the palms of their hands; the actors’ performance, especially el tipo and la mujer (which are great by the way) as well as the pacing of the editing kept me on the edge of my seat. The more the café crowd tries to be “funny”, the more disturbing and unnerving the film becomes.