Why Every Spanish Language Student Should Watch “Ocho Apellidos Vascos”

Ocho_apellidos_vascosHere at UniSpain, we love the film Ocho Apellidos Vascos! It is one of those movies you’ll want to see again… and again, and again. This rip-roaringly fast and funny comedy took Spain by storm this year. Many critics were surprised—after all, it was supposed to be just a low budget, national rom-com. But as mouth-to-mouth recommendations spread and more and more people flocked to see it, the movie turned into a landslide box office hit.

Why? What is it about Ocho Apellidos Vascos? Well, here are some very good reasons why you should see it… don’t worry we haven’t included any spoilers!

You’ll laugh out loud

The main reason why you’ll love this film is because it makes you laugh. Hard. Even if you’re not versed in the politics between Spain’s Basque country and the Andalusian region, you’ll soon get the gist of it… the two don’t get along.

As Rafa from Seville and Amaia from the Basque Country meet during a night out in Seville, sparks begin to fly, but they’re not always necessarily the right kind. After a drunken night together, Amaia forgets her purse at Rafa’s house, then disappears back to Euskadi. Against the advice of his friends, Rafa decides to follow her. When he arrives, though, he meets an Amaia who is far from friendly—and hilarious circumstances force him to impersonate a full-blooded Basque with eight surnames.

Basque independence is a serious issue in Spain. Likewise, Andalusians normally take much offence at the way northern Spaniards caricaturize them as far too laid back, ignorant and corny. But when rude, far-too-serious Amaia clashes with romantic Rafa, who has never been out of Seville, the film manages to lighten and laugh at many of the serious topics plaguing Spain today.

You’ll love the cast

Dani Rovdani_y_clara_dentro_ira, who plays Rafa in the film, has become an over-night star in Spain. But his background is stand-up comedy. This is why he makes the film outrageously funny with his facial expressions, twitches and reactions to the farcical events that evolve.

Clara Lago plays Amaia, the serious and angry Basque girl. Underneath her stubbornly independent and rude exterior, however, Amaia is vulnerable—she has fallen out with her father and has just been left by her fiancé.

Famous Spanish television actress Carmen Machi plays Merche, an Andalusian woman who lives in the Basque country. When Rafa first arrives and things go wrong with Amaia, she takes Rafa under her wing—to the extent that she pretends to be Rafa’s Basque mother, changing her name to Anne.

Finally, Karra Elejalde is Koldo, Amaia’s estranged Basque father. He is fiercely patriotic and would only ever accept a Basque suitor for Clara. When Rafa gets roped into pretending to be Amaia’s Basque fiancé, his fear of Koldo is one of the main reasons for the comical situations that arise.

You’ll be able to relate

Why Every Spanish Language Student Should Watch “Ocho Apellidos Vascos” - Picture by london.tab.co.ukIn every country there are regions or parts of the population that are at odds with each other. For instance, in the UK, the northerners and southerners are divided. In the USA, the East and West coasts are considered very different, as are people from big cities like New York or Washington versus the countryside.

This is the case in almost every country in the world: people tend to separate into groups. So pretty much everybody all over the world will be able to understand and laugh at the stark differences in Basque Amaia’s and Andalusian Rafa’s attitudes, culture and dress sense—even if not familiar with them before.

The film ultimately shows how people from very differing backgrounds can come closer together when circumstances require it.


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Learning about Spanish cultures

Admittedly, for those who are not aware of the differences in Basque and Andalusian culture, some of the jokes in the film will get lost in translation. You have to be fairly knowledgeable of Spanish affairs to get all of the dialogue.

For example, when Rafa meets Amaia’s patriotic Basque father, he has to pretend he is Basque too. But this is not enough for Koldo, who expects Rafa’s Basque lineage to go back eight generations. So Rafa makes up eight Basque surnames, but he uses surnames of currently famous Basque people who you would normally see on TV or in the news in Spain—football coaches, royals, celebrities and so on. This of course creates the title of the film: Ocho Apellidos Vascos, or “Eight Basque Surnames”. (Although the film title is translated into “Spanish Affair” in the English film release, by the way).

Even if you don’t get all of the jokes, you’ll soon gather that Basques and Andalusians don’t normally get on—and you don’t really need to know more than that to be able to laugh at the situations that come up. By the end of the film, you’ll have definitely learnt a lot about the customs in Spain’s Basque country and something about Andalusians too.

Love conquers all… or does it?

 - Picture by notasdecine.esIn the film, the Basque girl, Amaia, has been left by her fiancé only a couple of weeks before their wedding. When she meets Rafa, he is making jokes about the Basque Country. Amaia’s first reaction is rage, but underneath, the two feel very attracted to each other.

The problem is, can they overcome their differences? When Rafa has to pretend he’s a real Basque with eight Basque surnames—even changing his clothes, accent and opinions—he begins to get more of an understanding for Amaia’s culture. This is one of the reasons why the film is so successful: it shows that love can cross cultural borders and language barriers.

Go watch this film. You will laugh and love it. And, prepare yourself for the sequel! Fimling has already been confirmed to start in 2015. We’ll leave you with the official trailer to tickle your taste buds… enjoy!

Ocho Apellidos Vascos (“Spanish Affair”) – Official Movie Trailer


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