How Money Heist’s red jumpsuits, Dali masks and Bella Ciao became symbols of resistance: ‘You wear it as your own skin’

Ahead of Money Heist season 5, we take a look back at how its costumes, colours and songs have resonated deeply with real-life revolutions and political protests globally.

Money Heist might revolve around robbery but the costumes, colours and songs used take us deeper into the theme of the show – resistance, defiance, camaraderie, skepticism and chaos. Each gang member is fighting their own demons, but when they get into their red jumpsuits and Salvador Dalí masks, it becomes a symbol of revolution against the system.

The thieves first wore the red jumpsuit and mask when they got together for the heist at the Royal Mint of Spain. Two robberies and four seasons down, and the symbols continue to stand for revolution. The group picked it to disguise their identity in front of the police, even making their hostages wear it as a equaliser in the eyes of the government. But there’s a reason behind everything.

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Red has stood for several things across history – love, passion, anger and freedom. As put by The Professor in season one, they are not just undertaking a heist at the Mint, but also a “resistance against the system”. Point to note is how red holds a national value in Spain, the origin of Money Heist too.

Speaking about wearing the red jumpsuit, actor Jaime Lorente aka Denver shared that it goes beyond just work. “It’s not only the character’s skin, but the idea of the gang and Money Heist.” Rodrigo de la Serna aka Palermo added, “You wear it as your own skin.” Esther Acebo, who plays Stockholm, said, “For me, it’s the symbol of struggle and courage. But then as an actress, it is also a responsibility.”

The creators also picked Salvador Dalí masks purposely. The robbers’ ideologies align with Spanish artist Salvador Dalí whose art rejected the capitalist society. What the gang wants is an equal distribution of wealth.

Money Heist, known as La Casa De Papel in Spanish, also incorporates the song “Bella Ciao” seamlessly into the screenplay. The Italian protest folk song is the musical centrepiece of the crime drama. It first appears when the gang celebrates its victory over touching the soil while digging the escape tunnel at the Mint. The second time, it takes an emotional route when The Professor and Berlin are ready to greenlit the robbery planned initially by their father.

“Bella Ciao” traces its roots to late 19th century Italy. It was first sung by the mondina workers to protest against the harsh working conditions in the paddy fields. It was later used as an anthem of anti-fascist resistance by Italian partisans against Nazi German forces during the Italian Resistance.

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During a recent exclusive virtual set visit, indianexpress.com got to hear showrunner Alex Pina’s take on using “Bella Ciao” in Money Heist. He said, “We were looking for an iconic sound. We always look for an identity: with the color red, with the Dalí masks. And, obviously, we needed a soundtrack that sounded like an anthem and that was associated with freedom and resistance. And suddenly, one of the scriptwriters, Javi (Javier Gómez Santander) came in with that song one day and we said: “This is it! We had been looking for songs for a month before we found ‘Bella Ciao’. And I think it was the key.”

Money Heist’s symbols have become a global hit, even being used for real-life political protests.

Money Heist season 5 will bring back the costumes and song when it releases its first part on Netflix on September 3.

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