Spain: Almeria's sea of plastic, on the big screen with Blade Runner 2049

The sea of plastic of Almeria's Poniente is featured on the first few minutes of Blade Runner 2049, the film with which the Canadian Denis Villeneuve has given continuity to one of the key titles of science fiction cinema. It is a bird's-eye view that lasts no more than fifteen seconds, more than enough time to recognise that great greenhouse mosaic that can be identified from space "without any effort," as astronaut Pedro Duque stated when he became Doctor Honoris Causa at the UAL last June.

Producer Babieka Films, with Denis Pedregosa at the helm of the project, was in charge of shooting aerial shots of greenhouses of El Ejido and Campohermoso, whose fairground served as base for the helicopter. And this is not the only Spanish location in the film, since moments earlier we also see the solar thermal power plant Gemasolar of the town of Fuentes de Andalucía, in Seville.

Thus, Seville and Almeria have been brought together in the screen again 55 years after Lawrence of Arabia, although now they serve as canvas to portray a bleak and sombre Los Angeles in 2049.

"On Google Maps you can see many greenhouse complexes around the world, but that of Almeria's Poniente is the only one with such a chaotic appearance, with those corners that fit together like Tetris pieces, almost without any room between one another," explains economist David Uclés, a great fan of the science fiction genre and one of the spectators who instantly recognised this unique "Orchard of Europe."

However, in Blade Runner 2049, greenhouses are not used to grow fruits and vegetables, but for worm breeding. "That is where they get protein to feed the population; it's an inexpensive way to do it. It is not unreasonable to imagine a future in which we have to eat like that due to the scarcity of resources. The film plays with these metaphors about the future of nature, like when we see a dead tree. What is clear is that the society of that megalopolis has to resort to solar power and greenhouses to produce energy and food," affirms Uclés thinking about the thesis of the film starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.

Curiously, it is not the first time that Ridley Scott, director of the original Blade Runner and here executive producer, has resorted to intensive farming in his filmography. In "The Martian", an adaptation of Andy Weir's book, Matt Damon's astronaut was able to build a greenhouse on the red planet in order to grow potatoes and secure his livelihood.

Did Scott discover Almeria's sea of ​​plastic while flying over Andalusia by helicopter looking for locations for "Exodus" (whose production in Spain, by the way, was carried out by Babieka)? It is an unknown fact which, at least for now, will be lost like tears in rain.


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