A positive attribute of
Woody Allen movies not set in
Manhattan (who can forget his dramatic opening black and white panoramic shot, accompanied by George Gershwin's brilliant Rhapsody in Blue?) is that they are featured in equally compelling foreign urban settings. Thus, the 2008
Vicky Cristina Barcelona transports us to the impressive city made famous by the stunning architecture of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet. The vast majority of Gaudí's works are located here in the
Catalan capital of Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família Church.
The European movie is typical Allen misadventure in the bedroom, featuring the sexually adventurous Cristina (
Scarlett Johansson) and her friend Vicky (
Rebecca Hall), who is much more cautious as they holiday far from home in sensual Barcelona where they meet the celebrated and seductive painter, Juan Antonio (
Javier Bardem), difficult for me to accept as a romantic lead after his stunning performance as a maniacal killer in the Coen brothers' 2007's No Country for Old Men. Vicky is committed to a forthcoming marriage, but Cristina is captivated by Juan Antonio's free spirit. Enter his divorced fellow artist, the tempestuous Maria Elena (
Penelope Cruz), and sparks fly as the fun begins.
The Gaudí landmarks in Barcelona are many, and you can absorb the brilliance of one of the world's most famous architects in several areas as follows:
Situated between the old city and what were once the surrounding small towns of Sants, Gràcia, Sant Andreu etc., in the centre of the Eixample district on the Passeig de Gràcia, his most striking and best-known buildings are featured. On the corner of Carrer Provença, stands the Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera, Catalan for stone quarry, with its swelling forms reminiscent of ocean waves. Further down the street is the Casa Batlló, a metaphor for the legend of Saint George and the dragon. From here you can follow Gaudí's footsteps to his key work, the Sagrada Família Church, an unfinished architectural treasure which has become Barcelona's major symbol.
Park Güell is a delightful park above the city with amazing buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí. You will also find Gaudí's old home in Park Guell which is now open to the public as a small museum. In an interplay between nature and architecture, the gatehouses to the Güell Estate, near the Palau de Pedralbes, the crypt of the church in the Colònia Güell and the Palau Güell, on Carrer Nou de la Rambla, also bear the name of his principal patron, Eusebi Güell.
Casa Calvet, Casa Vicens, and Casa Bellesguard, are further examples of his wonderful work, as well as the less well-known convent school, the Collegi de les Teresianes, in the Sarrià neighbourhood.
Barcelona truly is Gaudí's city, his work admired by world architects as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. Born in Reus in 1852, he received his Architectural degree in 1878, and from the beginning, his designs were radically different from contemporaries. Gaudí's work mirrors nature, reflected by the use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures and organic-like forms. He adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns.
Sagrada Família is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Many religious symbols are found in his works, which has led to his being nicknamed "God's Architect" with calls even for him to be beatified.
Woody Allen, you might recall, professed no belief in an afterlife, but said that he was taking an extra pair of underwear just in case!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.