Halloween. Friday the 13th. Scream. V for Vendetta. There are many films with masks that have earned iconic status in the pop culture world. But in recent years, one TV series used masks to attack Spanish banking institutions, becoming both a costume shop favourite and an icon of social resistance. We refer, of course, to the masks in Money Heist. This is the origin and meaning of the Netflix show's masks.
Money Heist: The masks and their meaning
First off, the masks used in Money Heist are not just any mask. In fact, they are a caricature of the face of one of the most important Spanish artists: the painter, Salvador Dalí.
The directors used Dalí because they considered him a sufficiently recognizable emblem of Spanish culture — more so than figures such as Pablo Picasso and Don Quixote. But there are some who have found special meaning in the use of this character in a plot such as the one exposed in Money Heist.
"Like all surrealist art, Dalí's work was inherently rebellious (...). Like the robbers (and their red jumpsuits) in Money Heist, Dalí has become a symbol for revolution," Sarah Bea Milner wrote in a Screen Rant review.
In his view, the protagonist of the series, Alvaro Morte, stated that the masks represent "the spirit that it embodies, for the resistance."
"I think a lot of people got hooked on Money Heist because of that theme (resistance), that the small fish can go against the big fish," Morte added. "I think we all felt like this at some point. For me, more than anything else it represents the spirit of resistance. I think we should all have it against any form of injustice."
The masks of Money Heist: A Symbol of social resistance
After the show's success on Netflix, various global demonstrations adopted the masks and costumes of Money Heist as another emblem in favour of social change.
In 2018, a group of women wearing the Dalí mask demonstrated in front of the National Congress in Argentina to show their support for the legalization of abortion.
That same year, protesters in the Middle East wore Money Heist's red suits and masks to protest a lack of public services, mass unemployment, and corrupt leadership.
However, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, in charge of protecting and promoting the legacy of the Spanish painter, asked to remove the surrealist's image through a lawsuit, but it was soon dismissed in court. Just another achievement for the thieves of Money Heist, it would appear.
For more insight on Money Heist, learn the truth of the show's title translation here: La casa de papel and Money Heist