This movie starts out with a very energetic and pulsating early 80s song, performed by three or four punk rockers. The name of the song is the title of the movie: HIJOS DE PAPÁ (Pappa's Children or Dad's Children). It wasn't a bad song, at all, for 1980. Even by today's standards it's a pretty good rock tune. This hip, very modern opening is very deliberately placed immediately before a flashback to early 1940s Madrid. The contrast of this abrupt shift is even more dramatic by switching to black and white. This black and white portion is a relatively sizable part of the entire film.
You will find some parallelisms in HIJOS DE PAPÁ. There are two "Pappas". One is the literal father in this story (Fabián) and the other is the "national father", Generalíssimo Francisco Franco, whom Fabián symbolizes. As the story begins, we see Fabián as a young man in his early 20s, still living at home with his parents. His mother, a very spirited and emotional woman, is very strict and rigid in her son's upbringing (kind of in the same manner that Franco led Spain for four decades). We see her chiding Fabián for not being dressed, and ready to go observe Holy Week with her (which corresponds with the Easter holiday).
Later on, when the story fast forwards to 1978, we see a completely different situation between Fabián and his own son. Fabián is sitting in his arm chair reading a book. Once again it is Holy Week. His good-looking, skinny, twenty-ish son (who is sporting a conspicuous perm) bursts in and exclaims:
"Hey Old Man!!"
"Do you know what time it is?", Fabián sternly asks. He does not even bother to raise his eyes from his book, as he asks this.
"Forget about that!", his son says flippantly.
"3:30 A.M.!!", the father says. By now he has abruptly taken off his glasses, put his book aside, and given his son his full attention.
After a few argumentative exchanges, Fabián says:
"You're out this late during Holy Week?!?"
"A sissy holiday!!", his son calmly answers.
The conversation ends with the son telling his Dad that he's not about to revamp his whole life because of Holy Week. He then leaves the room, almost scornfully telling Fabián:
"Chau (Chow)!!" (Just as in Italian, this means good-bye)
Another great part, from the 1940s portion of the film, shows Fabián falling in love with a showgirl (Alicia) and the romance that ensues. One day they are walking through Madrid's beautiful Parque de Retiro. Caught up in the emotions of their love for each other, they begin french kissing as they walk. Along comes a middle-aged to older woman, with a pack of school children. When she sees the young couple frenching, she is shocked; she quickly herds the children off, like a flock of scared little sheep. She immediately calls Fabián's mother and tells her what a "sinvergüenza" (a shameful display) that whole spectacle was. Fabián comes home, very cheerful and expecting that nothing is awry. He goes to kiss his mother, as he always does, and she snaps:
"Not at me!!"
Fabián then gets raked over the coals, BIG TIME, by Mom. He is upset enough that he does not go to see his showgirl/girlfriend perform that night (he made it to most of her performances). We see Alicia looking rather puzzled (and sad) that Fabián's normal seat is empty.
Still another interesting scene from the 40s, is when General Franco addresses a huge crowd of cheering Spaniards. We see Fabián's mother in the crowd. She is nearly crying from her love and loyalty toward her leader. This film was made in 1980, just five years after Franco had died (and Spain had passed from a military dictatorship to a democracy). There was a lot of malaise and grumbling, among the Spaniards of the early 80s, about how bad things were (or how tough things were), since they were no longer led by an IRON FIST (and were free to make their own mistakes). I could not believe the reaction of the audience, when Franco appeared on screen! Incredibly, quite a few of them jumped to their feet, gleefully shouted and applauded loudly (I saw this movie in a theater in Sevilla, Spain, when I was an exchange student there)!
The acting is really wonderful in this film (and there are tons of laughs)! One extremely talented and hilarious actor from this movie (you could say, very "loosely", that he's a "Spanish Rodney Dangerfield") is Antonio Garisa. He died 9 years after making this film. Even if you do not understand Spanish, this film promises to be HIGHLY ENTERTAINING. It also has the flavor of being not just a Spanish film, but a very EUROPEAN film. I won't spoil that particular surprise for you. Hopefully it is not totally impossible to find a copy of this great movie.
The gist of HIJOS DE PAPÁ can be summed up in a poster, that I saw outside the theater where it played. There was a drawing of Generalíssimo Franco, with a quote from him, FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE:
"¡Ya estáis sólos!...........¿Y qué?!?" (OK; you're alone now!........And so what?!?)
Another way to translate that would be:
"OK, you're on your own now!! And what do you have to show for it?!?"
This marvelous film was based on a novel by Fernando Vizcaíno Casas
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