Posters for several films shot in Metro de Madrid

Metro, a great film set under your feet

As soon as they arrive in Madrid, the Pérez family travel by metro to Lavapiés in the brilliant Surcos (José Antonio Nieves Conde, 1951), one of the first films to have had Metro as a setting and even the protagonist. Since then, there have been many directors who have brought to the cinema the daily life of this underground city the history of which is part and reflection of the future of Madrid, and today, Spanish Film Day, we encourage you to look back at some of them with us.


From the 50s to the Movida

Let's start our tour in the 1950s, inaugurated with the aforementioned Surcos. A few years later, Jacinto, dressed in a bullfighter's costume, travels by metro to the Plaza de las Ventas from Tirso de Molina, ready to show his nephew and the world his bullfighting skills in "Mi tío Jacinto" (Ladislao Vajda, 1956).

In the 1960s, Gracita Morales tries to leave Ventas station surrounded by a crowd in another masterpiece of Spanish cinema, "Atraco a las tres" (José María Forqué, 1962) and Luis García Berlanga chose the Carabanchel station for José Luis (Nino Manfredi) to return to his executioner father-in-law, Pepe Isbert, the briefcase he had left behind in his hearse in "El verdugo" (1963). And iconic is the image of José Luis López Vázquez leaving Sevilla metro station in "Un millón en la basura", also by José María Forqué (1967).

In the 1970s, Pedro Lazaga also used Metro in "Estoy hecho un chaval" (1977), with Paco Martínez Soria, and the odyssey of the blind Pablo and Andrés (José María Rodero and Quique San Francisco) after being locked in Goya station at night in "La larga noche de los bastones blancos" (Javier Elorrieta, 1979) deserves a special mention.

We've come to the 80s, so let's stop at one of Pedro Almodóvar's gems, "Laberinto de Pasiones" (1982), in which Cecilia Roth puts on make-up in Metro. And in another classic of Spanish cinema, "La estanquera de Vallecas" (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1987), in which the inexperienced Leandro and Tocho arrive in Puente de Vallecas by metro to rob Emma Penella's tobacconist's shop. Also in the 1980s, Jaime Chávarri reminded us that Metro served as a refuge during the war in "Las bicicletas son para el verano" (1984), based on the play of the same name by Fernando Fernán Gómez.

Love in Metro

In the following decade, a short film recorded entirely in Metro, "El Columpio" (Álvaro Fernández Armero), won a Goya in 1993. In it, Coque Malla and Ariadna Gil exchanged glances in a love story that never materialised, as did that of Unax Ugalde and Pilar López de Ayala after meeting in metro in "Báilame el agua" (Josetxo San Mateo, 2000).

And speaking of love, even if we have to go back in time, how can we forget Matías' love for his cousin Violeta in Ópera Prima (Fernando Trueba, 1980) next to Ópera metro station, immortalised in the film's poster? Incidentally, the director's son, Jonás Trueba also showed a metro station in "Los ilusos" (2013), in his case that of Antón Martín.

It's time for the 21st century

The turn of the century saw Victoria Abril and Penélope Cruz become angels, one bad and one good, and put them on the underground in "Sin noticias de Dios" (Agustín Díaz Yánez, 2001). An interesting fact is that the film was presented at the Pitis station.

And in 2004, José Luis Garci turned Elsa Pataki into a box-office star in "Tiovivo c. 1950", making her follow in the footsteps of Gracita Morales in "Un vampiro para dos" (Pedro Lazaga, 1965). Incidentally, in the same film, her husband in fiction, José Luis López Vázquez, also worked at metro.

Still in 21st century, let's talk about how a murderer flees from Roberto Álamo and Antonio de la Torre (who had already been in metro in "Dispongo de Barcos", by Juan Cavestany, in 2011) through Ópera station in "Que Dios nos perdone" (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2016).  Shortly afterwards, Víctor Moreno showed life as it is under our feet in "The Hidden City" (2018).

And we close our review listening to Raffaela Carrá at Chamberí station, where one of the musical numbers of "Explota, explota" (Nacho Álvarez, 2020) was filmed. The fact is that this ghost station, now a museum, hosts different film shoots every year, although undoubtedly one of the filmmakers who has best immortalised it was Fernando León de Aranoa, who turned it into a shelter for the homeless in "Barrio" (1998).

This brief review of the history of Metro in the cinema shows us how, since its incorporation into the life of Madrid more than a century ago, Metro de Madrid has not only been a witness to the city's evolution, but also a major player. And this, as we have seen, has been reflected in the cinema.