This week’s cult gem is El Televisor, directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador in 1974. This was two years before the cult classic Quien Puede Matar a un Niño?. El Televisor was made for tv and only lasts 70 minutes. It was made for Historias para no dormir, a 70s version of our Masters of Horror or, maybe more to the point, the Spanish 2006 series Películas para no dormir (which Serrador also made a movie for).
The story’s quite simple: a loving father wishes all the best for his family and buys whatever his wife or children want to have. He also has a dream, owning a television set (in colour, please), but he has shelved this dream until his family is completely satisfied. To his big surprise, this day has come and his wife convinces him to buy a telly.
Yes, he’s happy with his purchase. In fact, he’s so happy he uses his day-off to watch the test card, the olden days announcement programmes would start within the hour. Soon he decides television has an answer to anything: why still go to church if you can follow a church service from the comfort of your own home? Why go to the movies if you can watch a play on tv?
After a while the man starts to alienate from his family and spends more and more time in front of the box. He even invents an excuse to get a couple of days off from work and soon after he can’t even be bothered to go to work any longer. The man has given up his real life to watch the ones on tv.
The film’s climax takes it one step further and completely dissolves the line between real life and tv.
El Televisor suffers from a message that is too much on the forefront, but it does show a society losing social skills in favour of some quality time with the tv set. With our modern eyes, the man’s wife may seem too naive and gullible, but we do tend to forget how much the role of the wife has changed in the last thirty years. In 1974 there were still a lot of housewives who wouldn’t dream of interfering with their husband’s desires, simply because the man had to go and work for the family.
So it may be a bit outdated, but El Televisor is an interesting time capsule from the 70s. It also shows a director getting ready for something bigger (and that would be his cult classic Quien puede matar a un niño?). It’s apparently not out on dvd, but it did get a recent showing on Dutch television, thanks to a theme week on media. It’s a shame it’s so rare I couldn’t even find some stills to go with this article, but then again that’s also part of DV: occasionally talking about movies which are impossible to find.