Wednesday, August 12, 2009
La cabina (1972)
La cabina ("The Telephone Box") is an Emmy award-winning 1972 film directed by Spanish director Antonio Mercero and written by him and José Luis Garci.
In the 35-minute film, a man becomes trapped in a telephone booth, while passersby seem unable to help him. A truck from the telephone company arrives, loads the booth with its trapped occupant onto a truck, and takes it away. When the truck arrives at its destination, the horrified man finds that he has been offloaded into a large room with many phone booths, each one containing a dead person.
This short surreal Spanish film directed by Antonio Mercero is one of those films that you will never forget. The story is simple. A man (played by José Luis López Vázquez) takes his young son to school. On the way home he sees a telephone box with its door slightly ajar, as if it's a Venus fly trap, waiting to snare its victims. He enters the booth and tries to make a call, but he finds the phone is out of order.
When the man entered, the door closed behind him, he tries to open it, he cannot. He struggles inside and tries everything to get out. He shouts at passers-by, who glare at the poor man. They are helpless, too. Then a fireman gets a sledgehammer, and just has he attempts to hit the glass, a phone company truck appears with four men in it, honking its horn as if to say this man is ours, we have caught him.
They then put the telephone box on the back of the truck with the man still inside. They take him on a journey through the streets. While stopped at traffic lights, the man looks at the side and sees another man trapped in a telephone box on the back of a truck, just like him. The journey reaches its conclusion as the truck enters a huge underground factory complex. Inside the building the terror is revealed, as rows and rows of telephone boxes are lined up, each with a dead person inside; one has strangled himself with the phone cord. The man knows his fate is sealed and panic sets in.
The end shot is of the phone company men cleaning the phone box and putting it back in the same location and opening its door slightly ajar again. I first watched this film when I was about eight years-old and it's always stayed with me. I wouldn't go into a phone box for a while afterwards, in fear of being trapped inside.
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