The first scene does not deceive: the opening credits end and a horse with two wicker saddlebags and a rider with a wide-brimmed hat advance through a gorge. Overprinted, the name of the film: The legend of Escanyapobres. Yes, Ibai Abad’s second film is a western based on the famous novel that Narcís Oller published in 1884 and, as befits any adaptation, the necessary licenses have been taken, but it remains recognizable

Abad remembers that it was in high school where, like so many students, he got to know the work, but with the financial and banking crisis of a few years ago, it “resonated” with him because of the parallels it displayed. Then he found the elements that brought him closer to the western, starting with the arrival of the train in a remote village, with a protagonist, the Poor Man – played by Àlex Brendemühl in the film – who has a dark past that he wants to redeem .

But if Oller used the character of Donya Tuies – Laura Conejero – to structure the narrative, Abad has focused on Cileta – Mireia Vilapuig – mixing her with the maid, because “it served to make a natural narrative arc and create a a character who starts out very pure but, fascinated, wants to approach the power represented by money”, he explains. Greed, corruption, that loves everything. “In a society in which a woman needed a husband almost to exist, the question is: ‘Do I corrupt or escape?’, because women could only have freedom if they had money, and in this sense the effort of “Oller”.

At the same time, the fact that the action is located in an invented town like Pratbell – even though the writer was based on his native Valls – gives the film’s director a lot of freedom to create scenarios that “want to reflect an imaginary with a one foot in the western world and another in the Mediterranean world, because of the idiosyncrasy and because here there is less wood and more stone”. In addition, “budgetary limitations meant that we always shot in real locations, and this ended up being a success, and it gives a patina of worn aesthetics that favors the film”.

The legend of Escanyapobres, which can be seen today at the BCN Film Fest and is expected to be released in the autumn, is also the narration of “a journey into the dark”, because “we see how Escanyapobres has the kindness to touch, tries to redeem himself, but cannot stop being who he is and drags the rest into the shadows, even literally, in a scene shot inside a mine: “It was difficult to shoot because Brendemühl is claustrophobic , and it came out in the first, but the tension it conveys is very real”, recalls Abad.

In the middle of the film, the wind blows over the train track and knocks over a dry bush. There’s no doubt about it: it’s a western.