Barcelona in the Movies!


So you have decided you want to learn Spanish and have come to study in Spain. What better way to practice your Spanish language skills than by watching Spanish movies?  And what a wonderful surprise when you turn on your TV to find images of the city you chose to be the home of your Spanish studies!

So, here it is, a small selection of films which will help you with the Spanish Language and will show you from different points of view (from the most romantic to the most horrific) one of our Babylon Idiomas cities. My city: Barcelona.

The city of Barcelona is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. This is demonstrated in decades of movies, which show the wonders of its architectural heritage often through the works of Antoni Gaudí.  In this review, we’ll give you the info on a selection of both Spanish and non-Spanish movies which have been shot in Barcelona in the last decade.


Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother – 1999 – directed by Pedro Almodóvar) –  Living in an Almodóvar movie!

A quirky and colourful narrative which ties together the lives of the most improbable collection of female characters (including a couple of transsexuals and a nun). The world famous director Pedro Almodóvar gives you a look into Barcelona in 1999 and during the process references some of the most well known of Barcelona’s attractions, like Tibidabo, Palau de la Musica, Plaza Palau and Sagrada Familia Church. He also references some more peculiar places,  like the Montjuic Cemetery  and the characteristic façade of a residential building called “Cases Ramos”, with its typical floral theme in geometrical drawings, which you can still admire in Plaza Lesseps.  In full, the film is a multi-layered tribute to the female sex (“We are all women!’” says Almodóvar) that also beautifully captures the dynamism and generous spirit of the city of Barcelona.


Tapas (2005 directed by José Cobracho, Juan Cruz) “la vida es como los pimientos de padrón, a veces pica… y a veces no”

In Tapas, you see Barcelona through the life of five protagonists each with their own story which later intertwine. The film is set in a working suburb of the city, Hospitalet de Llobregat; and gives a bittersweet view of life in the neighborhood with tones of a dramatic comedy.


REC (2007 – directed by Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza) –  Terror in the city

This horror movie was one of the biggest surprises in Spanish cinema of the last decade. The film is shot as if the audience was taking part in the recording of a reality TV show. The film follows a Spanish late-night television reporter through the lens of her cameraman in what initially seems to be the case of a woman trapped in a building. What follows, once inside of the building, is a night that none of them will ever forget.

The strange thing is that if you live in Barcelona you can go and see the building! It’s on Rambla de Cataluña (n. 34). It is said that it is still empty; nobody lives there apart from the owner. He has an office there from which he hires out the building for television and film recordings, as he did with REC. Why don’t you go and have a look?


Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008 – directed by Woody Allen) –  …When Hollywood fell in love with Barcelona!

After many visits to Spain, film director Woody Allen fell under its charm and chose the cities of Barcelona and Oviedo to shoot one of his latest films, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  The film tells the story of the sexually adventurous Cristina and her bright, Catalan culture loving friend Vicky , during a summer holiday in Barcelona.
It ‘s no coincidence that Allen chose Barcelona for the location and even included the name of the city in the title. He stated that when writing the script, “I wanted to honor Barcelona, because I love the city very much, and I love Spain in general. It’s a city full of visual beauty and the sensibility of the city is quite romantic.” There are many different aspects of the Mediterranean city that appear like postcards in the film: Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, where a scene with Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall was shot at the lizard-shaped fountain, the original rooftop of “La Pedrera” and other locations such as the Tibidabo Amusement Park (with stunning views of the city), the Olympic Port and La Rambla. Allen may capture the magic, but it’s the city of Barcelona that does all the seducing!

Biutiful (2010 – directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu) – … Surprisingly beautiful!

The film Biutiful is centered on the turbulent suburbs occupied by desperate immigrants from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe… we’re hardly aware of being in Barcelona at all! It comes as a shock when suddenly we see the familiar outline of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família in a distant cityscape and later when we’re faced with an idyllic Mediterranean beach covered with the dead bodies of illegal immigrants. Biutiful takes us to places the tour buses won’t: Badalona, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Hospitalet de Llobregat.

It’s definitely not the most optimistic and flattering depiction of the city but if you love Barcelona, good cinema and the great Javier Bardem, then don’t miss this emotional and touching film. Bardem’s role led to first ever Best Actor Academy Award nomination for a performance entirely in the Spanish.

Sylvia Lohan

Fashion and photography addict, interested in languages, culture, traveling and all-things-beautiful.