‘Prison 77’ (2022) Story Recap And Ending, Explained

If we travel back in time and look for political prisoners, we would see the brutality that seems humanly impossible. However, the last century stands witness to the lengths of human brutality and degenerated morals. The last century has seen it all: world wars, civil wars, the fall of dictatorships, the rise of democracy, the advancement of technology, globalization, and whatnot. However, if we just measure the brutality of the last century, it is probably unparalleled to anything we have seen today. The film Prison 77 by director Alberto Rodriguez is largely based on the post-Francoist regime.

General Franco was undoubtedly one of the most impactful dictators in Spain. Spain was under the rule of Franco from 1939 to 1975. After the long tyrannical rule of almost forty years, a new democratic government was formed in Spain. The government decided to issue a release for all political inmates. The amnesty for political prisoners was also extended to those who were considered to be anti-Franco. However, the common prisoners were neglected. The conditions of the prisoners were not suitable, and they barely had any rights. Then, a group of young lawyers and inmates joined hands to fight for the rights of the inmates, which was called “Coordinadora de Presos en Lucha,” or COPEL.

The film, however, is a fantasy that is largely based on these events. In the film, we see the heartbreaking journey toward freedom of a twenty-seven-year-old accountant who was sent to prison for fund embezzlement. Manuel, the accountant, met the government lawyer, who could not answer when his trial would begin or for how long he would be detained. Furthermore, Manuel saw several injustices against the inmates in the prison and wanted to write to the authorities and bring about change. Soon, he realized that all his efforts were futile, and he grew frustrated. Soon, he became the coordinator of a group inside the prison that demanded amnesty through revolts and riots. Manuel became the face of the protest. Along the way, Manuel formed a strange bond with his cellmate, Pino, who was a reluctant, powerful, and mysterious inmate.

Spoilers Ahead

Equal Rights

Brutality is not limited to only physical violence or abuse; it also strips someone of their basic rights. As Manuel walked into the prison, he told a policeman to be polite with a boy who was sixteen years old. But for the police, anyone who is behind bars is a criminal, and thus they should be mistreated. The isolation chamber, the stale food, a little bucket of water for sanitation, and no proper mattress to sleep on were not ideal for every inmate. Some prisoners had been waiting for their trial, but the date never approached, and they, too, were mistreated. Manuel, in his initial days, was struggling with these injustices and wanted equal rights. He wanted the policemen to let him shower, eat proper food, and provide him with a mattress that was not infected with bugs. He refused to give away his blazer for money to anyone—the policeman, who acted like the supreme power, or the most powerful inmate, who could arrange for everything inside the prison. Manuel knew he was wronged; he told that to the government lawyer who was to represent him someday. But the lawyer had other cases, so defending Manuel was not on his list.

We learned that there were three types of people inside the prison. The primary group consists of powerful inmates who are treated with respect by the policemen. They have access to many things that the other inmates are not allowed: books, lights, drugs, alcohol, a mini fridge, and whatnot. They were either the ones who displayed their powers or the ones who kept everything to themselves, but no one dared pick on them. The second group was made up of people who would balance between the policemen and the first category of inmates. They were peace-loving people who wanted to survive their tenure. The final group was the informers. They acted as the friends of the inmates but would rat them out to the policemen if and when needed.

However, when there is such a distinct division among the inmates, the question of equal rights evaporates. There was always a display of power. It was either done by the powerful and resourceful inmates or by the police. But, as political prisoners were released on amnesty by the new democratic government, there was a unity that was forming—a unity to obtain freedom and a unity to fight for equal rights.

Fight For Rights

A group of people opened PRA, where they demanded prisoner’s rights and amnesty. Many of the inmates were beaten to death in the middle of the night based on internal politics. The officers on duty would mostly say that the inmates were transferred to some other prison. For protesting against what was wrong, inmates were often beaten and locked up in isolation. A group of young advocates also came forward to talk to the inmates and force the courts to provide an early trial date for them or provide amnesty. However, the very foundation of the organization was for prisoners to be free. The leaders of the movement often turned their backs on the movement the moment the officers negotiated their freedom. The community, the act of unity, the hunger strike, and a lot of other violent and nonviolent protests were to achieve freedom. It was surprising to see that inmates who thought they were superior to the others also joined the cause. Every single man, be it those who rattled, those who showed power, or those who played it safe, all joined together to support PRA. This movement makes it clear how each man strives to be free. Freedom is probably the only fundamental necessity that humans realize only after being stripped off. Simultaneously, we, as an audience, very closely observe how democracy can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

After Franco’s death, the newly formed government decided to grant immunity to the war perpetrators. A few were released from prison. However, later, the nationalists were favored more than the Republicans. Also, there were a great many people like Manuel who were locked up and whose cases never saw the face of the court. They protested and demanded amnesty as well. They believed that the new government would ensure a fresh start, but their expectations fell flat on the face of the earth. However, the policemen were granted immunity to keep the prisons in check for the smooth running of democracy.

Relationship Between Manuel And Pino

Pino was in prison for several years. He was a calm man who seemed not to care what went on inside the prison. He had his own book rack and his own fresh and fashionable shirts. All respected him, and he was never picked on. Somehow the policemen never bothered him either. Manuel was much younger than Pino and wanted to fight for his freedom. Manuel was intimidated by Pino’s calmness, even after most of the inmates were fighting and on hunger strikes while they supported PRA. Pino supported it too, but his support was silent and impactful. He made deals with the leaders of the first category of inmates and asked them to join the movement. He taught Manuel to deal with failures. He taught him that instead of thinking he was locked inside the cellar, he must think that he locked the people out of his zone.

The duo was not instant fans of each other, but Manuel gave Pino a new hope—a hope of freedom—and Pino gave Manuel the strength to live inside the prison. The duo, when they worked together, were the face of the movement inside the prison. They created chaos so smoothly that the policemen were surprised. However, the police and the government wronged them again. They were beaten, threatened, and put in isolation. Pino and Manuel were shifted to another prison far from Spain, where they were inhumanly tortured. In one scene, we saw Manuel swallowing multiple bed screws while he was badly bruised, only to see if his friend Pin was alive.

‘Prison 77’ Ending

A drowning man catches a straw. When the system, the protest, and the nation failed the prisoners, they decided that they would have to break free. Pino, Manuel, and several other people have been lied to, mistreated, denied their rights, and have been victims of police brutality. They had been tolerating everything because they thought their freedom was around the corner. But as soon as they realized that the government and the system granting them freedom were hoaxes, they decided to find their own route to freedom. In the end, we see them breaking out of prison. This prison break is the worst record of a prison break in Spain since the Spanish Civil War.

In the end, we see Manuel and Pino parting ways. Manuel realizes that Pino has left a bundle of cash in his shirt for him to start afresh. The ending is touching and simultaneously scary. A society that fails to provide basic rights to every citizen, prisoner, or otherwise stands in the face of crisis. Also, police brutality is not some fictional story but an age-old tradition of shamelessly showing off the animalistic nature of those who are in power.

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