Roger Rabbit and the cinema in Ibiza

Incredible though it may seem, Roger Rabbit is Ibicenco. I bet most of you didn’t know this fact about the famous cartoon. According to Ibiza-born filmmaker Enrique Villalonga, Richard Williams, cartoonist and film director, who lived on the island in the 50s, got the inspiration for Roger Rabbit from a clown in a sideshow in Dalt Vila. This is only one of the many curiosities we learnt from Villalonga’s speech on the relationship between Ibiza and films in the twentieth century, which took place in Espacio Cultural Sa Nostra last Thursday. Interestingly enough, most of the productions that were filmed on the island were foreign films which never set foot on it.

Anybody knows which was the first film made in Ibiza? Ley del Mar (1959) by Miguel Iglesias. Its script is a free adaptation of the novel Los Muertos Mandan by Vicente Blasco Ibañez and it offers us the opportunity to get a glimpse of what La Marina and Sa Penya quarters, and Santa Eulària were like in the 1950s.

Ibiza’s hype started growing in the 1960s with the arrival of the first tourists. The cinema industry helped to build the myth of the ‘White Island’ around the world. Seemingly, the screening of the cult film More by Barbet Schröder triggered the first flight connection between Ibiza and Germany. Around the same time, the island welcomed the filming crew of one of the few productions starring the Spanish songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat, La Larga Agonia De Los Peces Fuera Del Agua, by Francisco Rovira Beleta. Unlike those two films, which exploited the hippie side of the island, other films set in Ibiza had 007-like espionage plots, Zarabanda Bing Bing by José María Forqué and 3S3 Agente Secreto by Sergio Sollima. Later in the 80s, two more action films were made on the island, Escuadrón by José Antonio de la Loma and the comedy The trouble with spies starring Donald Sutherland. We shouldn’t forget to mention that several erotic films have featured the island as their setting, but that would take up a whole volume.

One of the most critically acclaimed films set in Ibiza is F For Fake, written and directed by Orson Welles. In a documentary fashion, the film recounts the story of Elmyr de Hory, the famous art forger, who lived in Ibiza, and his biographer, Clifford Irving.

Long is the list of directors that have worked on the island. For one, Allan King, a renowned Canadian documentarist, filmed the comedy Running Away Backwards here. Some of its settings include La Marina, Portinatx or Es Figueral. Spanish filmmakers Antonio Bardem and Luís García Berlanga collaborated in the script of the unfinished Cerco de Ira, set in the Pityuses too. Manuel Summers, another Spanish director, visited the island to film twice. In the late 1960s first, to make ¿Por qué te engaña tu marido?. One of the scenes showed protagonist Allfredo Landa performing in Teatro Pereyra in all its glory. Later, in the 80, Summers made it back to the island to film Hombres G’s Sufre Mamón, in which the mythical Ku club appeared.

As for famous stars working in Ibiza, to name a few, Angela Lansbury, well-known for her role as detective Jessica Fletcher, starred in a TV film based on the novel The Shell Seekers. Also, a young Clive Owen worked in An Evening With Gary Lineker, a British TV production.

If you’d like to learn more about the relation between the island and films we recommend checking out the exhibition ‘50 anys de cinema a Eivissa. Mostra gràfica 1949-1999. Col·lecció: Enrique Villalonga’ , which is held in six different venues around the island. To know more, you can check the events calendar.

Story Told By Maite Alvite

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