The Hidden Angle | 'Money Heist's music is led by rendition of 'Bella Ciao' and other symbols of resistance
'Money Heist', the globally popular Spanish drama about a heist planned by The Professor and his team, has had brilliant music accompanying each episode over the seasons; this season too we have some brilliant background score in place to accompany different twists, set up and scenes that make an impact on the overall plotline of the show.
Let's take the title soundtrack 'Bella Ciao' for instance; it is an Italian song that could either mean "Hello Beautiful" or "Goodbye Beautiful". The importance of this song in the series itself is hinted at when The Professor and Berlin, his older brother, hum it the night before their heist at the Royal Mint. Since then, many of the characters in the show have sung the song in different instances.
The significance of this song in The Professor's life goes back to what his life revolved around -- resistance -- and the one who revealed it to us is Tokyo, when she says in one of the earlier episodes, "The life of The Professor revolved around one idea: Resistance. His grandfather, who had fought against the fascists in Italy, taught him the song—and he taught it to us." This attempt at incorporating the essence of music into the storyline has only continued throughout the show.
For instance, in the second season of the show, the song is played when Berlin and his team find a way out of the Royal Mint, the same time the cops finally figure out how the men in masks had entered the Royal Mint in the first place.
At different moments when members of Berlin's team put up resistance, this song plays and it reflects in the interest of the audience because what we remember is the exhilaration from the song.
Even the background score is used to build up moments that would either come crashing with twists or end with a rousing success - all of it centered around resistance, and whether to give in or fight it out. And why not? If one were to look at the historic significance of the song, it makes complete sense.
'Bella Ciao' is originally an Italian folksong that was first sung by women at farmlands to pass their time in Northern Italy. The revolutionary tone to it and the change in lyrics occurred during World War II and has since become a symbol of anti-fascist resistance and is also used worldwide. The song strikes a chord with people so much that it was sung by locals in Germany and Italy from their balconies during the time of quarantine.
The show is violent. There is blood, death, sacrifice, loss and all of this is underlined by resistance. Be it when Tokyo met The Professor in Thailand to attempt a rescue of Rio in season 3, or when Nairobi is shot down, only to survive the first time around in season 4, the background score adds to the anticipation.
'La Casa de Papel' holds further hidden symbols that refer to resistance embedded throughout the show. The show's driving theme is resistance, so this added detail within the show is great. Take the color red for instance; Berlin, Tokyo, Nairobi, Rio, Lisbon, Denver and Helsinki wear overalls during the heist that is red in color. In different parts of the world, this color is to used to indicate resistance, liberty, and freedom especially by revolutionaries who used the color. For example, the French revolutionaries in 1789 used red Phrygian caps initially to signify liberty.
Then, we have the Dali masks which are used by Berlin's team since the beginning of the show. Salvador Dali was a famous artist and across the world, he is graffitied on walls, his work is referenced in many instances and 'La Casa de Papel' happens to use his work to reference resistance as well. Dali's art was part of the Zurich Dada movement which saw artists and performers produce satirical work in reaction to the horrors of the first world war. One of the key beliefs of the Dada movement is to oppose bourgeois culture and reject a society that revolves around capitalism.
The tagline of one of the seasons of the show was 'Join the Resistance', and all of this plays a part in the latest instalment of the show. Despite some flaws in the latest season that pertain to a scattered screenplay, this theme is intact and it is great to see it unfold in the latest season.
'Money Heist' premiered on April 3 and can be streamed on Netflix.
‘The Hidden Angle’ is a weekly column examining narratives, frames and sounds that add value to movies and shows but are not part of conversations surrounding their success or failure. The column will be published Fridays.