“Prison 77” is a Spanish historical drama directed by Alberto Rodriguez, starring Miguel Herran and Javier Gutierrez. The story is based on the time period of the ‘Transition’ in Spain, focusing on the rights of the prisoners inside the prison. The film is set in the late 1970s and the story is based on the living conditions of the prisoners residing in Modelo Prison, Barcelona. The narrative is inspired by the real story of the ‘Transition’ from 1976 to 1978, where the prisoners of Spain, who were imprisoned for common charges, pleaded for amnesty like the political prisoners were granted. The narrative also sheds light on the organizations of the prison inmates for implementing amnesty as a law. These organizations emerged when Spain went through the process of democratization after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. The film starts with Manuel’s (played by Miguel Herran) entry into the prison in 1977, on the charge of theft. Manuel is a young accountant who had been falsely framed for a hefty sum of money; he had planned the robbery with the son of the owner, and the owner bought witnesses on his side, and Manuel got the maximum punishment. His court-appointed lawyer would not provide him with a date for his trial, which, in the film, never happens anyway. Manuel becomes cellmates with Pino, one of the wisest inmates in the entire prison, played by Javier Gutierrez. From the very first scene, Manuel gets beaten in prison, and when he goes to file a complaint, the prison guard demands money—$300 pesetas is the price of democracy .In the following scene, Manuel gets robbed of his clothes, and the prison guard does nothing but stand and ignore the scene again. Manuel could not lodge a complaint because he had no money on him. These basic rights fuelled the movement of the inmates of prisons all around Spain, and they demanded a law for amnesty for criminals with minor crimes. “Prison 77” is an important story that remains highly important in the political landscape of Europe, and the story is unknown to people outside of Spain, which makes it of utmost importance.
‘Prison 77’ Story
In a short span of time, the narrative changes, and the brutal, inhuman conditions of the Spanish prison start to unfold. There were beatings by the prison guards on minor issues, lack or no medical care, and the inmates showing resistance were taken away in the middle of the night with black bags over their heads, never to be heard from again; all of these brutalities and conspiracies existed in the Spanish prisons where the guards made the rules, was implemented and followed by everyone. Manuel was approached by the members of COPEL during his initial days as he had shown dissent and asked for his rights under the democracy, and soon they started to protest against the prison guards and rules and demanded amnesty. The members of COPEL used to do meetings in the presence of a qualified medical examiner inmate who took medical care of all the inmates because of the absence of any proper medical practitioner for the prisoners. From the meetings, they created the Prisoner’s Rights Association, which gained huge popularity in the streets of Barcelona, and lawyers supported the inmates and the movement for freedom and amnesty. The prison drama has its own elements and does not shy away from showing the harsh reality that the inmates had to go through, especially the members of PRA, and how their demands were misdirected by the prison authority. In a series of events, the COPEL members cut their hands in protest for their rights to a better life in prison, and a lot of the prisoners got sick, which gained huge media attention. As a result, when Manuel did not sign up for his voluntary transfer to another prison, he and his cellmate, Pino, were kidnapped in the middle of the night and taken to another prison halfway across the country, where they were beaten up, robbed of their clothes in the cold, and thrown into solitary confinement. The movement lost its momentum, the government ruled out the prospects of amnesty, which broke the willpower of the protestors, and the demand for amnesty slowly disappeared.
The Ending: How Did It End For Manuel?
In the end, Manuel and Pino came back to the Modelo prison, and there they decided to escape, as they had no other hope. The movement had died, and there was a difference of opinion among the new inmates, for which escaping became the ultimate solution for the inmates. The narrative tells the story of solidarity, friendship, and movement about how prisoners are human beings and their demands are just. In one of the sequences, in order to save and treat Pino, Manuel ate three-bed springs, which led him to the hospital, and he threatened to have more of them if Pino was not treated properly when they were shifted to a new prison. The film ends with the successful escape of Manuel and Pino, whereas some got arrested on their way. The film ends on a happy note, with Pino and Manuel parting ways and Manuel reuniting with his girlfriend. There had been more than 79 prison breaks during this period of transition, and amnesty was never implemented, but some reforms were done for the betterment of the living conditions of the inmates.