Bambú Producciones – Spain

This is a Spanish production company created by Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés. I have come to love the romantic storylines that they put together in TV Series such as High Seas/Alta Mar, Morocco Love in Times of War/Tiempos de Guerra, Grand Hotel/Gran Hotel, Velvet and Velvet Colección, and Cable Girls/Las Chicas del Cable – the ones I have loved. These are period pieces with the most beautiful costumes of those era’s stemming from the late 1800’s to 1950’s and 60’s. The screenwriters they have chosen for these pieces create stories that stay in your head forever. These are nail biters that almost force you to “binge” watch as you are mesmerized from one minute to the last. A step above the “soap opera” style that I grew up with, I would even say that Grand Hotel far surpasses Downton Abbey with a more provocative and less dependable outcome. Downton Abbey plays more to the American audience, whereas Grand Hotel doesn’t care or even need to. When you have created a masterpiece, your work will embrace the audience it is intended for. Cerebral minds that are seduced by outstanding performances from actors that stimulate your senses.

In fact, my first indoctrination into Bambú Producciones was Grand Hotel, which I watched many years ago. This past year when I began to watch Morocco… and saw Amaia Salamanca, once more – perhaps the muse for Ramón? Even though her name was now Julia instead of Alicia, I suddenly heard “Julio!” every time she appeared on screen in the first episode. Which, people who have seen Grand Hotel will appreciate. In Morocco, she has two love interests that complicates life in Merilla, during a brutal war between the Spanish and the Muslims. And complications make sense when every day could be your last. Unlike the elite lifestyle she has at the Grand Hotel, while she still comes from wealth, in Morocco, none of this is flaunted while a nurse on the battlefield. And while the tension of being with Fidel is much more erotic than that of Julio, the similar storyline of “will she end up with him” continues to flourish.

As well as looking out for the great work of Amaia Salamanca, there are so many other film greats that I have enjoyed seeing reappear over and over again. “Tio” José Sacristán has appeared in three of these TV Series, twice as the Uncle and once as the Father and Colonel in charge. Although, it feels like he is always your uncle. On High Seas, he gives us a questionable sexuality with his rose-colored glasses and effeminate suits. While we question this, it is elegantly dealt with by not bringing it up. I may have missed a line though because Netflix is not capable of doing subtitles anymore (about 10-25% are always missing in each foreign film or TV series), very sadly. I love the passion and substance that Alicia Borrachero brings on to the screen like a flamenco dancer. She is the head of the nurses on Morocco and in constant tension with José Sacristán’s character the Colonel. It feels as if they are dancing together onscreen. Though these are steps that are choreographed to assimilate a sexual liaison, which does not happen, as it is a performance not a reality.

Velvet is a beautiful retail series that the Spanish have created to jump into the already saturated market with Mr. Selfridge (America) and The Paradise (Britain). If you have seen these two remarkable programs, you haven’t seen anything until you watch Velvet. I am not as excited by its spin-off Velvet Collection (it is minus the main characters). Velvet has that same poor vs. wealthy girl/boy storyline that we saw in Grand Hotel. In Velvet, the show moves differently and at a faster pace since we are now in the 50’s and 60’s; eventually at the shows end. You even have characters running in scenes, jumping or dancing around to embody a sense of a different time period, which notably Selfridge and Paradise are not in. Even the song that brings us to each episode is hip and swinging like that Be Bop era. The Spanish have definitely “one upped” retail department store shows but then again, we are looking at a different culture. They do not have to portray the rigid characters found in American and British TV shows. They are a passionate group of people and speak one of the romance languages. Naturally, it would be different.

Speaking of which, the music and artistic direction for these period pieces of Bambú Producciones is quite unique and lovingly thought out for each of their programs. I thoroughly enjoyed the magick that appeared onscreen with each episode of Grand Hotel, with the images that were three dimensional. It took a couple of episodes before I realized – wait, wasn’t something moving there? Only we don’t generally focus on the opening credits necessarily as much as you might want to with this one.

I have not seen all of the TV series that they offer, and I did not find myself enjoying “The Embassy” at all and that is okay. Perhaps you will have a different opinion. If you get a chance take a look at their website to find out more about their various productions and look for them on your channels wherever you may be. Allow these delicious programs to tempt you into another world.

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