BOOK MOVIE THE PLANETS | Alejandro Simón Partal, author of the filming diary of ‘Segundo Premio’: “Secretly, I think all the members of Los Planetas are excited about the film” |

BOOK MOVIE THE PLANETS | Alejandro Simón Partal, author of the filming diary of ‘Segundo Premio’: “Secretly, I think all the members of Los Planetas are excited about the film” |
BOOK MOVIE THE PLANETS | Alejandro Simón Partal, author of the filming diary of ‘Segundo Premio’: “Secretly, I think all the members of Los Planetas are excited about the film” |

Film projects tend to be cooked over low heat and it is not unusual for them to be subject to certain ups and downs, but taking six years to bring one forward can be considered a somewhat excessive figure. In 2018, the producer Christopher Garcia and the writer and screenwriter Fernando Navarro They decided to make a movie about their favorite band, The planets. It would focus on a key moment in the career of the people from Granada, the one that gave birth to their album A week in the engine of a bus (1998), a psychedelic creative process dotted with lysergic excesses and conflicts between the members of the group that, despite everything, gave rise to a great album.

The first director chosen to carry it out was Jonas Trueba. Trueba called a trusted writer and friend, Alejandro Simon Partal (Estepona, 1983), to take care of write a diary of that filming. But the delays in this were already accumulating: to the normal difficulties in getting any project off the ground were added the Covid and the disagreements between the film team and the Granada group, apparently jealous of how their image was handled. Over time the former would argue that the project was not intended to be a reliable reconstruction of what that musical adventure was like, nor a faithful portrait of each of its protagonists, but rather a fiction inspired by real events, to the point that on its poster you can read the message “this is not a film about The Planets.” .

The fact is that Trueba left, tired of the thing taking so long, and he ended up directing the film Isaki Lacuestaalthough very complicated personal circumstances caused him to do it remotely and to be his usual assistant, Pol Rodriguezwho took the lead in the set. The result, despite the difficulties, has been a great success: the film won several awards in the Malaga Festivalamong others the Silver Biznaga for best film, and critics and audiences welcomed it.

Alejandro Simón Partal, a privileged witness to everything since he got involved in the filming to write this book, says that he does not dare to speak on behalf of anyone to say what opinion Los Planetas have about the film, which is exactly what everyone The world wants to know after speculation and morbidity have run rampant. But the author of Downstairs. Diary of shooting (Plaza & Janés), which is the name of the book, does venture out by stating that “Secretly, I think everyone is excited about the movie. Because it is a gift to be given a tribute like that, directed by Isaki Lacuesta, one of the most recognized and necessary filmmakers in Spanish cinema. And I also think that Los Planetas is going to be resurrected by younger generations who don’t know them as well.”

A personal diary

Despite its title, Downstairs… It is not so much a filming diary as a personal diary by Simón Partal in which the film ends up occupying only part of its pages. In fact, the opening sentence is similar to the warning on the film’s poster: “This is not a book about the Planets movie.” He explains: “The idea at the beginning, when the director was going to be Jonás, was to be very directly involved in the filming. But as the events unfolded, I moved away,” the writer tells EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA. “I preferred to write the diary from a position of outside witness. I didn’t want to write a technical book on cinema because I wouldn’t know how to do it, and I didn’t want to write a monograph on The Planets either. “I just wanted to make a diary, because I love those types of books and I wanted to tell about my days in Granada and other places with the background of the film that was being filmed.”

The idea at the beginning, when the director was going to be Jonás, was to be very directly involved in the filming. But as events unfolded, I moved away.”

Throughout its almost 200 pages we witness the vicissitudes that occur in the author’s life over two years and in parallel to what happens with that filming. It begins when he receives the assignment from Trueba while surviving pandemic boredom at a university in the Czech Republic, and goes through a NY to which he travels for other professional and personal reasons, but where it also had to coincide with the part of the film that was filmed there, the city where the album was recorded, something that ultimately did not happen because it was postponed. But Above all, he focuses on his stay in Granadawhere Simón Partal settled for a few months to follow the bulk of the filming.

Although we attend the filming of some of its most emblematic scenes, and also parties and conversations with the members of the crew, most of the pages are taken up by the author’s reflections, who during that time had to deal with mourning the death of his father, his personal adventures around the city and a few emotional and sexual encounters. When asked if what can be read in the book are things that really happened, he answers enigmatically that “everything is true and it may even have happened“, although he admits to having included some doses of fiction. Of course, he admits that in Granada he flirted quite a bit. “The truth is that I was very successful there, I had a great time. “Those meetings helped me meet people and enjoy myself.”

One might expect that the filming of an adventure of excess such as the recording of that album, with characters who spend half of the film stoned, could have led to a filming that was just as wild, even more so when its leading actors are also young and local musicians. But it was not like that. “And that disappointed me. Because coming from the very sad city in the Czech Republic where confinement caught me, One of my hopes was that life in Granada would be much busier. But it was very calm. Those on the team are very healthy people, perhaps the least healthy of the entire team was me,” he says with amusement.

Real characters and actors who are characters

Jot, singer and historical leader of Los Planetas, appears at various moments in the narrative. He is a friend of the author, although their relationship went through some difficult times. One day, in the initial stages of the project, “I was at home and I received a message from Jonás telling me that Jota was very angry because there was someone who had read the script before him.” Who supposedly read Simon’s copy of the script “He left at home and confessed it to Jota in that always foggy environment that is a dressing room; he was the person with whom the writer shared his life at that time.”Jota wanted to get off the project“, remember.

Jota is a very perfectionist person. “A music scholar, very obsessed with controlling everything that has to do with Los Planetas and with his own name.”

That crisis, he says, lasted only 24 hours. Afterwards their relationship was mended. But the musician is the key name in this story. He says about him in the book: “He is as attracted to the idea of ​​this film as he is anguished by being portrayed poorly in it.” But what is Jota like beyond those clichés that paint him as a complicated and unsociable being? “I would say that he is a very perfectionist person. A student of music, very obsessed with controlling everything that has to do with Los Planetas and with his own name. Despite their reputation as cursed, or that disorderly time they lived in, I think that in the group they have always been very aware of where they wanted to go.“. He will also add that “it seems to me that Jota is one of the great lyricists and composers in Spanish. The genius of his lyrics is overwhelming.” Although here he has kept a diary and is now more focused on narrative, who this claims is a multiple award-winning poet, so his opinion on verses and stanzas is relevant.

If Jota is the real character that has the most weight in the book, it is Crystallinethe actor who plays Florent, guitarist of the group, the one who attracted their attention the most during filming. The relationship between the two musicians who were the driving force of the band, a close friendship and creative complicity that in the film at times borders on homoeroticism and that crashes against the inability of two men to manage their affection, is a fundamental part of the plot. And the role played by Cristalino, a musician from Granada who was making his debut as an actor, is one of the great assets of the film. “I hope that when all this happens Cristalino is not ‘the one who made Los Planetas’, because He is a boy who has a very special magnetism and as an actor he has been extraordinary“says Simón Partal, who believes that the film’s Florent, very thin and often wrapped in a cloud or submerged in a thick drug-induced dream, “creates a special spell, for example when he is walking through New York with Morente de background. He gets everything to end up linked in his body: Granada, Lorca, Morente, New York. “It makes the movie soar.”

About whom almost nothing is said throughout the book is May, bassist of the group in its first stage and third apex when Jota and Florent formed a triangle with her that did not survive until the album on which the film is centered. She left before her because she saw that that life was not for her, and in the film she is a character external to the band but decisive in the emotional development of the protagonists. The author of the diary believes that she did not agree with it being done Second prize. But he does not understand that there has been so much talk about the need for approval of the film by the real characters who appear in it “if what is being made is fiction. I guess the team has been so respectful that they wanted there to be agreement from everyone involved.“. A respect that is explained, he says, because those who started it were fans who were paying tribute to the soundtrack of their sentimental education.

Regarding Los Planetas as artists, Simón Partal concludes, “I thank them for maintaining elegance and mystery despite everything. In this time of overexposure, It seems romantic to me how they have remained in the shadows, living on the margins but without advocating for the periphery.” Or put another way: without working, as others do, to convey a mystery that often is not such. And he cites as an example Scott Walker, another musician, this one forged in the 60s, who like the Granadans was at the same time a legend but knew how to stay in the shadows. Shadows that, with this film and the accompanying filming diary, are now somewhat less dark.

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