In 2018 Escupemetralla presented a musical documentary, directed by a certain Joan Fuster, about the infamous Catalan "procés", which was subsequently featured at that year’s edition of the James Oaktrees Wolf Prize for Espardenyist-Medieval-Trotskist Journalism. Espardenyes are typical Catalan shoes made of esparto rope traditionally worn by peasants, and by the members of Escupemetralla as well, when they feel patriotic.
The film has not been available for several years. What follows is a full synopsis, for the enjoyment and headache of those who were born when the "procés" had already been thrown into the dustbin of History and replaced by a circus of giant yellow fleas.
Escape from Catalonia 2018
A film by Joan Fuster, soundtrack by Escupemetralla
Warning! This synopsis may contain spoilers, plus a profusion of Catalan words and idioms that will surely make it difficult to read. A concise glossary of terms is provided at the end.
On October 1st, 2017, a tsunami reaching 89.3 magnitude hits the city of Barcelona, causing Catalonia to be separated from the continental mainland by flooding the Lleida province (now called the Ferrusol Sea) and turning it into an island from Sant Carles de la Ràpita to Puigcerdà. Just prior to this, a Catalan presidential candidate (an obscure reference to Guifré el Pilós), who is also an out-spoken, Christian fundamentalist and theocracist, had made a doomsday prediction of the disaster during his campaign, saying that Catalonia was a "paradise on Earth", and that, "like the mighty hand of God, waters will rise up and separate this paradise land from the sinful, sinful mainland that we used to call Spain."
In the chaos that followed, the candidate is elected as the new President and a new constitutional amendment appoints him for life in office. This President declares that all people not conforming to the new "Moral Catalonia" laws he sets for the country (banning such things as rock and roll, industrial music, bullfights, “arroz a la zamorana”, and sex with non Catalans) will lose their citizenship and be deported to Pollença. Barcelona’s Raval district is turned into a penal colony of sorts. A containment wall is built around the district, armed guards and watchtowers are posted everywhere and those sent to that district are exiled permanently.
In 2018, Baños, a Che Guevara-like Baader-Meinhof revolutionary, seduces the President's daughter, Moreneta, via a holographic fax and brainwashes her into stealing her father's remote control to the "Sword of Guifré" super weapon, a series of high-tech satellites capable of destroying electronics anywhere on the planet using a focused sausage-with-beans pulse. The President had threatened to use the system to render male enemies of Catalonia "unable to function sexually", and eventually dominate the resulting world of eunuchs. Moreneta gets away in an escape parachute from Air Force Quatre Barres and lands on the Raval to be with Baños.
With the satellites under his control, Baños promises to take back Catalonia with the assistance of an allied invasion force of Mongol nations that are standing by for his signal to attack. Baños threatens that if the President tries to stop him, he'll "flush the toilet" on the country and demonstrates his power by covering the capital with mud and cow dung. Baños also knows the secret "Catalan code" (which is 1714) that can activate all the satellites and knock out all sausage factories for the entire region.
Meanwhile, former hero, rescuer and criminal Snake Pilsen is back from Oktoberfest, and is captured for another series of crimes (he had had sex several times with a Portuguese girl). The President, the police base camp commander Milà i Fontanals (who is a single person, not two) and his aide Menèndes i Pelai (who, again, is a single person) arrive and offer him a deal: Snake will go to the Raval as an exile to retrieve the remote device. The President says he will give Snake a full pardon for all the crimes he has ever committed if he is successful. The President indicates he doesn't care if Moreneta is returned or not, saying she is a traitor and a "botiflera". Initially, Snake refuses to get involved, but to ensure his compliance, Milà i Fontanals tells Snake that he was secretly infected minutes earlier with the man-made Ratafia 7 virus, which will kill him in one century. If he completes the mission, Snake will be given the antidote, provided they can find one.
Snake is given a sub-machine water gun, a personal zoetrope, a Primark thermal-camouflage underwear, and a wrist cuckoo clock for how long he has to live. The virus works extremely slow, and Snake is given a device to record the decades counting down from one century to find the device and get out before he dies of boredom. The Raval is now in ruins, and a hot-bed of crime and dubious restaurants serving “arroz a la zamorana”. Snake sneaks into Raval with a nuclear-powered flying Bicing bike which he soon loses when the roof where it lands on crumbles, causing the bike to sink into a ‘80s disco.
Making his way across the district, Snake meets an array of characters. One of them is Louis Lake, a swindler who makes a living selling counterfeit marijuana cigarettes and fake red wine made from rotten grapes. Snake runs into a knife-wielding skinhead who drinks hair-restorers, and also passes by Avi Culé, a hippie surfer who surfs the tidal waves of corpses that frequent what is left of Robador street.
Snake then meets a young woman whom directs him to the location of Baños’ camp, but they both get captured by a group of mutant Catalans from Perpinyà and held in the former Perecamps hospital where they are threatened by the insane and deformed "Surgeon General of L’Àrea de Guissona". Snake uses a knockout fart hidden in his crotch to subdue the Surgeon General and forces his people to release him and the young woman, and give them cakes. Snake and the woman escape to a nearby BurgerMcKentucky where after she reveals her romantic feelings for Snake, she is disfigured in the cross fire of deadly cupcakes.
Snake has a run-in with Avi Culé again who tries to lead him to Baños' camp, only to betray him and Snake is captured. An increasingly stoned Snake is brought to the former bullring where he is forced to kill a dozen bulls by trying to stab two of them at a time and at short distance with a corkscrew. Snake manages to bring down all of them with the power of his mind and earns praise and recogniton from the crowd. He escapes from the arena during another aftershock tsunami and gets away with a little help from Avi Culé who shows him how to surf the shit waves that wash over the area.
Snake hides out on board the former Hotel W, now transformed into an outboard motorboat, where he meets local gang leader Carmen of Calasparra, whom was formerly Bill 'Pistol' Burroughs, a transsexual and former accomplice of Snake from Calasparra, obviously, who after hearing about his mission to find the black box remote control device, tells him the Ratafia 7 virus is a propagandized lie and won't kill him in one century but in one hour. She agrees to help Snake attack Baños’ main camp to get the remote control device and escape from the Raval and from Catalonia. Snake and Carmen's dwarves ride miniature Catalan donkeys and run to Baños' staging area.
Snake and Carmen of Calasparra's dwarves arrive at the former amusement park, Happy Phantasy Island by the Sea, and in a climatic water gun battle, defeat Baños by drowning most of his men in a sea of Font Vella water and claiming the remote control device. Avi Culé appears again and offers his help to Snake, despite being a double agent playing both sides of an LP. Snake commandeers an even tinier miniature police flying Catalan donkey and grabs Moreneta with him as they, along with Avi Culé, Carmen of Calasparra and her few surviving dwarves, board the donkey to fly away. But then Baños fires some fireworks at the donkey, damaging one of its microscopic wings and leaving Carmen and her dwarves impotent. Avi Culé manages to steal a nationalist flag from Baños, but he falls out of the donkey and lands on the debris of the ‘80s disco.
Snake manages to fly the damaged donkey to the mainland where he and Moreneta abandon the poor animal before it transforms into an anti-nationalist, rational human being. Just then, Milà i Fontanals, Menèndes i Pelai, and the President appear with a platoon of drunken almogàvers. Snake then hands off the wrong remote to the President while Moreneta is taken to the electric chair for roasting and caramelizing, despite her pleas for vegetarianism. Snake is relieved, but only more angry than ever when the timer for his life runs out so slowly and he learns that the Ratafia 7 virus was indeed to be nothing more than a stupid case of the pujolitis virus, not in the least bit lethal to Snake.
Thinking he has control of the satellites, the President tries to use it to stop a British invasion force threatening all the swimming pools in Catalonia. Activating the remote, the President hears only Escupemetralla’s soundtrack for “Escape from Catalonia 2018” with lyrics of ”O Sweet Catalonia“ instead.
In anger, the President orders Snake to be given a slap on his cheek, but Snake had activated his zoetrope projector and the Snake that gets shot is Queen Elizabeth II disguised as a heavy metal guitar player. Snake activates the device, entering the Catalan code (1714), against pleas to stop. All over Catalonia, the satellites activate their weapons, thus shutting down the entire sausage production, and turning the country back into the Franco Ages. At the deportation center, Moreneta praises Snake for "turning off Catalonia", and saving her. The illusory Snake mistakes a button in his zoetrope and effectively turns off Catalonia instead of turning off himself.
In the final shot, Snake is a few millimeters away from the President’s face, who is now looking for him, when he finds a pack of counterfeit marijuana cigarettes on the ground and lights one up. The cigarette box is labeled "Desperta ferro". As Snake walks off into the woods as dawn is starting to break, he then starts to sing, "Strike with your sickle! May the enemy tremble…”
Note: The soundtrack for this documentary was included along with two other political-musical statements commemorating the 'procés' in The beautiful pork revealing the unknown to a pair of espardenyes. Listen them here.
Glossary of terms:
- Procés: a confuse word, sometimes synonymous with slapstick.
- James Oaktrees Wolf Prize: named in memory of a former trotskist turned hypercapitalist media mogul and armchair humanist.
- Ferrusol Sea: named in honor of an ancient Catalan philanthropist.
- Guifré el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy): Bald Catalan count, 9th century.
- Arroz a la zamorana: typical culinary recipe from Zamora that is very difficult to digest.
- Baños: obscure politician and regular trash TV talk show host.
- Moreneta (Little Brown One): popular and patriotic name of the Black Virgin of Montserrat.
- Quatre Barres: the four red stripes of the Catalan flag.
- 1714: the year when supporters of a Habsburg Austrian king were defeated by those supporting a French Borbon one.
- Milà i Fontanals, Menèndes i Pelai (Catalan spelling for Menéndez Pelayo): 19th century intellectuals. Two Barcelona streets bear their names.
- Botiflera: traitor.
- Ratafia: a former sweet alcoholic beverage turned virus.
- Bicing: Barcelona’s bicycle sharing system.
- Louis Lake: alter ego of a famous outmoded folk singer turned vineyard landlord.
- Avi Culé (Barça’s Grandpa): a paunchy old man with a white beard who wears the Barça kit.
- Catalan donkey: Catalan bull without horns.
- Raval, Robador, Perecamps: just look at a map of Barcelona.
- L’Àrea de Guissona: agricultural zone in central Catalonia, main producer of meat.
- Font Vella: a Catalan brand of mineral water.
- Almogàvers: soldiers from the Crown of Aragon, 13-14th centuries.
- Pujolitis: a mild disease caused by an ancient President of Catalonia.
- "O Sweet Catalonia": first verse of The emmigrant, by 19th century “prince of poets” Jacint Verdaguer. “Sweet Catalonia, country of my heart…”.
- "Desperta ferro" (Awake iron): Almogàvers’ battle cry. Possibly related to the Ferrusol Sea somehow.
- "Strike with your sickle! May the enemy tremble…”: verses from the pacifist and friendly Catalan hymn Els segadors (The reapers).
- "The beautiful pork revealing the unknown to a pair of espardenyes": title and cover are borrowed from a Joan Miro's painting, The beautiful bird revealing the unknown to a pair of lovers.