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These Death-Defying Human Towers Build on Catalan Tradition | Short Film Showcase

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Catalonia is ruled by the Spanish government, but its people have been constructing independent kingdoms for centuries. By climbing up backs and balancing on shoulders, Catalonians of all ages stack their bodies on-top each other to build castells, or human towers. The structures are not typical fortresses—notably, they are made of flesh and bone rather than sandstone or granite—but their strong foundations serve as a unifying force for many Catalonians. ➡ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoSubscribe ➡ Get More Short Film Showcase: http://bit.ly/ShortFilmShowcase #NationalGeographic #ShortFilmShowcase #HumanTowers About Short Film Showcase: The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners. See more from National Geographic's Short Film Showcase at http://documentary.com Get More National Geographic: Official Site: http://bit.ly/NatGeoOfficialSite Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBNatGeo Twitter: http://bit.ly/NatGeoTwitter Instagram: http://bit.ly/NatGeoInsta Read about the tradition of building castells. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/spain/barcelona/catalan-human-towers-castells-protest-catalonia-independence/ Read more in "These death-defying human towers build on Catalan tradition" https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83 See more from filmmakers Pedro and James. http://autobahnlondon.com/ About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world's premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what's possible. These Death-Defying Human Towers Build on Catalan Tradition | Short Film Showcase https://youtu.be/iIw5gc0zlU4 National Geographic https://www.youtube.com/natgeo
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Text Comments (330)
National Geographic (1 month ago)
The practice was first documented in 1801 as a cultural activity and became a competition in the 1980s. To learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Audit R Servants (1 month ago)
@ShArK 💙
ShArK (1 month ago)
Can you give me one ❤️ heart please?
Guillem Busquets (7 days ago)
Proud to be catalan ✊
Mr NixxxoN (7 days ago)
Good film Nat Geo, but you put too much focus on the bad side (falls and the danger), you made it too dramatic. It is NOT that dangerous, nor exactly "death-defying".
kalek wagner (19 days ago)
When we run out of sand to make city's *HUMAN TOWER*
Núria C. (24 days ago)
El millor que tenim a Catalunya. Si som capaços d'alçar-nos, desfer-nos i, tornar-nos a alçar, som i serem capaços de tot.
David Schaible (27 days ago)
Very beautiful video!
Anabel Camacho (27 days ago)
I love it and ...can those people find something less danger?
KSweeney36 (1 month ago)
So need to play the board game now!
Dave Otuwa (1 month ago)
Cristo Jesus! Castell-building looks like a dangerous sport! Ouch!
blueberrysmilie1 (1 month ago)
Beautiful traditions
alcoholic Eel (1 month ago)
Death-defying human: c A s T l e P e O p L e
Graeme Lastname (1 month ago)
Bunch of idiots risking their childrens safety. Very impressive.
Sehr Sowie (1 month ago)
National Geographic!? The Castells are in fact very beautiful and powerful, but.. - Catalonia is NOT "ruled by the Spanish government", but by themselves, they are Spaniards as well. Also, it has one of the most (if not the most) degree of independency of any other region in Europe (besides perhaps the Basque Country). - Also Catalonia has never been an independent kingdom. Ever. Not for centuries, not for a decade. Not even for a single year. - Finally, this is NEITHER a deep rooted tradition, NOR uniquely Catalan. The Castells evolved from the Valencian Muixerangas, and only gained its actual hype as an identitarian symbol from the 80s on..
Sehr Sowie (6 days ago)
@Right behind you What do you mean?
Right behind you (6 days ago)
@Sehr Sowielike every democratic country around the world?
Sehr Sowie (6 days ago)
@Right behind you I mean that they too chose and vote who to be ruled by, ergo they rule themselves. Portrayed like in the documentary it seems like they are ruled by a foreign power. Imagine saying something like "Californians are ruled by the US Government". Same here.
Right behind you (6 days ago)
They have to respect Spanish laws also they have the same Constitution what do you mean by not ruled?
David Sabadell (1 month ago)
The documentary starts explaining how catalan language has been persecuted and then every local in the film speaks spanish?
Sehr Sowie (1 month ago)
Not everything revolves around the language. Let the child speak whatever they want.
dess (1 month ago)
It's a beautiful tradition, I wished it was not a competition like in these recent years, everything is competing and that takes away the spirit, the meaning of union and love for the country that once had. Catalans have sardanes and castells both consist on holding each other in union with the music played at the same time. Amazing people.
Guillem Genoves (1 month ago)
Free Catalonia
Alejandro Gutierrez (1 month ago)
This is deeply moving.
Kevin Vu (1 month ago)
Too many recycled cuts
Santako Sound System (1 month ago)
Freedom for catalan people //*// Independence & Socialism
Cristian Uroz (1 month ago)
Thanks for this wonderful short documentary. It helps a lot to explain abroad what Castells represent to us, the Catalans.
M Alvarez (1 month ago)
Viva España y toda su gente
Right behind you (6 days ago)
@Aleix Pellicer ye they are the arian race we always forget that sorry.
Aleix Pellicer (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain
Signes dels Temps Catalunya (1 month ago)
Fantastic .
Richard Fenno (1 month ago)
The central metaphor of a great people.
My Opinion (1 month ago)
Odysseus (1 month ago)
I'm in Tarragona and definitely I will watch these castells on the place of the Cathedral.
Raoul Morales-Márquez (1 month ago)
Qué maravilla de tradición catalana. Es loable que las antiguas plazas de toros sean ahora usadas para els Castellers. Catalunya de verdad es otra cosa.
Sehr Sowie (29 days ago)
@Raoul Morales-Márquez Quizás piensa usted que España es un ente homogéno exceptuando Cataluña? Pocos países europeos me resultan más diversos que España. Una suerte.
Raoul Morales-Márquez (29 days ago)
@Sehr Sowie Otra cosa diferente al estado español, coincido. La Patagonia es igualmente una tierra bellísima. Saludos!
Sehr Sowie (1 month ago)
Otra cosa que la Patagonia, le doy toda la razón.
mikalyne chikomo (1 month ago)
Knowing me I'd probably be the reason the tower collapses.
Laishom Pinky Devi (1 month ago)
Thank but i don,t understand the language sub is small....
Vidz Song (1 month ago)
Guillem Genoves (1 month ago)
@Vidz Song cool! Bon dia (as we say in catalan language) ;)
Vidz Song (1 month ago)
Guillem Genoves cool, again no one said anything that it wasn’t a Catalan tradition nor anything of that matter. The comment says “I LOVE SPAIN <3” you can go ahead and read it again. I will keep saying it because I can. :) thanks for sharing information about bulls not being part of Catalan tradition though! Buen día!
Guillem Genoves (1 month ago)
@Vidz Song Catalonia is not a city. Barcelona is a city, capital of Catalonia
Guillem Genoves (1 month ago)
@Vidz Song As you can imagine, I'm catalan, so I know perfectly what's the situation here. Of course in legally terms Catolina nowadays it's inside Spain, but in cultural terms, Catalonia is another nation in the same way that Scotland is another nation despite it is part of the Great Britain. Human towers are part of the catalan tradition (and not spanish's) and bullfighting is part of the spanish traditions (bullfightings are forbidden in catalonia, and we're proud of that).
Kieran Mackay Blake (1 month ago)
Zahabia A. (1 month ago)
This is a typical Dhai Handi night every year in India. Reminds me so much of the Dhai handi festival...
Sandra Ard (1 month ago)
Has this thing ever collapsed? All I can think is this could be a recipes for a horrible accident .
Sasha Jordan Appler (1 month ago)
Amazing story, thanks for sharing :)
National Geographic (1 month ago)
We're glad you enjoyed watching! If you'd like to learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
Im so proud of our traditions, visit Spain guys!!!!
Random Craze (1 month ago)
Hey cheerleaders! Might as well 😂😂😂
Rich TowerIII (1 month ago)
make the subtitles bigger! so distracting
Alberto Cugat (1 month ago)
És part de la nostra identitat, aquesta que tan molesta a l'Espanya colonial. " It is part of our identity, which is so annoying in colonial Spain."
Teri Scallon (1 month ago)
Amazing! what courage they have
Ramon Arias (1 month ago)
thanks for showing with this video the heart of the catalan people. Visca Catalunya lliure!!
Lluís Burgués Aguilar (1 month ago)
The pity is that catalan people are still persecuted for defending their identity in a Spanish state everyday more repressive
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
You do realise that Spain is the country in Europe that gives most freedom to its provinces (including Catalonia) right?
Ramon Arias (1 month ago)
Great video!!
MRD (1 month ago)
Spain is beautiful, full of diversity and rich in traditions and culture! Catalonia and is people are amazing!
Alberto Cugat (1 month ago)
​@Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico Escolta sauri, si escrius en castellà, no ets pas català. De tota manera se me'n fot el que siguis, com si ets japonès, insensat, migpensionista o un sipai, que és el més probable.
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
@Alberto Cugat Yo soy Catalán y también soy Español. Si no os gusta la diversidad cultural os podéis a una isla
Alberto Cugat (1 month ago)
Catalunya no és Espanya, Catalunya és encara, una colònia d'Espanya.
Corsair1984 (1 month ago)
sepaol paskiman (1 month ago)
HUMAN FLASH MAN VIEW (1 month ago)
show of genius
nimloth11 (1 month ago)
Força, equilibri, valor i seny
Ivan Ripoll (1 month ago)
Today Catalans still being prosecuted, also for speaking their own language. It is not an issue from the past.
Ivan Ripoll (1 hour ago)
@Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico That sir is the most stupid I expected to read this month. And I live in Catalonia, so just reading newspapers is a stupidness fest.
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
@PopularUnity Do you know the huge social and economic conflicts that would come from independance? Just so you can wrote your name in your language's calligraphy instead of in castillian spanish? I appreciate your culture and respect It, however, arguments against independance by far outnumber those in favour.
PopularUnity (1 month ago)
@Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico Spain doesn't give anything, they have eliminated Extremadurian and Asturian languages, they forced gallicians to write their language in a spanish way (and not in the original with portuguese orthography) and are trying to separate Catalan-Valencian-Balearic in three different orthographies... We learn catalan since 80's because the spanish speakers of the region (the most important movement in Santa Coloma de Gramanet) demanded and demonstrated for education in catalan language, independentist are catalans of mixed origin, i 3/4 of my family are from outside catalonia speaking regions, like everybody here (2/4 from other parts of Spain and 1/4 from Italy and then 1/4 from Valencia)
Encarna Magín García (1 month ago)
Thanks, National Geographic. <3
Eclectronic Dj (1 month ago)
Any kid who plays soccer in a team since childhood suffers more damage than a casteller child ... how much hypocrisy
HeroSquad1millionA.D. (1 month ago)
I’ve never seen a bunch of kids hauled away from a soccer field with neck braces. I’d love to see a link to your statistics. I’m sure some kids get hurt worse but saying any kid who play from a young age seems just silly. I played soccer through varsity and never had a need for a neck brace or any other serious injury, some grass burns. I know a guy that broke his leg pretty badly but he was the exception not the rule.
Benicadell Benicadell (1 month ago)
Valencia is not Catalonia. The Valencian language is not the same as the Catalan language. The Catalan tradition of the Castells or Dance of the Valencians is not as old as it seems and these also have their origins this time, in the ancient Valencian Muixaranga that can still be seen and enjoyed in Algemesí (Valencia). Catalan nationalism has been appropriating the culture and language of its Valencian and Mallorcan neighbors for years and, among other things, with the Castells, the language, etc., what they want is to culturally structure their fictional and false Catalan countries. In Valencia we want to speak Spanish but also Valencian and not the standard Catalan that Catalan and Spanish nationalism wants to impose on us.
Benicadell Benicadell (1 month ago)
@Albert Gaspà ¿Que Pompeu Fabra era filoleg, antropoleg, historiador i geoleg? Jaja
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
que si xiquet que si....que ets filoleg, antropoleg, historiador, geoleg, i bocachancla diplomat...a dormir blaverot
sepaol paskiman (1 month ago)
I liked the short film, what i disliked is the title, it gives the impresion that ggreat injures are common in the castells, witch is not
Twim Wolfgang (1 month ago)
i realy Love SPAIN
Aleix Pellicer (1 month ago)
@Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico just had to correct the guy!
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
@Aleix Pellicer Whatever bro
Aleix Pellicer (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain
Santako Sound System (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain.
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
*de res
Kanji Tsuki (1 month ago)
This beauteful ❤❤❤❤
RAJEEV KUMAR (1 month ago)
Similar type of practice in Hinduism on Holi
Adria Rodriguez (1 month ago)
Why are they speaking spanish if they are catalans???
julio donadello (1 month ago)
Elena Acosta (1 month ago)
You can't read anything on the screen. Its to blurry.
Alex CoTs (1 month ago)
Freedom for Catalonia
Grey Love (1 month ago)
I could never trust another human this much.
Grey Love (1 month ago)
This is the greatest thing I've seen in my life.
National Geographic (1 month ago)
We're glad you enjoyed watching! If you'd like to learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Davey Givens (1 month ago)
Sally Siegel (1 month ago)
Stupid, masochistic. Like war or child sacrifice.
Nnnuvolari (1 month ago)
Go and have an ice cream. Simbolic thinking is not your thing.
Marissa Mendez (1 month ago)
Beautiful movie. Remind how deep I have Spain in side of my hard
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
@Santako Sound System ok bro
Santako Sound System (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain.
Gulminosaurio Polistuchidosico (1 month ago)
@Albert Gaspà Im spanish and I love these traditions
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
spain and spainyards doeesn't take catalan traditions as a spanish thing...this is may a reason to many people to want to get out from there
Surabhi Kumari (1 month ago)
" When you are close to castell it's like being next to a beating heart. " Wow , it sounds so poetic . " that goes boom boom boom " 😂 Jokes apart , it was really a beautiful experience to watch this ,it indeed felt like watching a living poetry, kudos to their bravery especially those little kids. It taught me about a beautiful culture , their unity and courage . I'm happy it is declared as a cultural heritage by UNESCO . We Indians also make human towers in schools and playgrounds to celebrate the birth of lord Krishna . I think this is part of some cultures around the world to celebrate things they believe in , it makes me happy and feel connected to them .
Aos (1 month ago)
Una tradición española preciosa :}
Aleix Pellicer (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain
Marc Casellas (1 month ago)
Thank you for this documentary National Geographic. You forgot to mention the gralla and the Toc de castells. This is coming from a Catalan and an American who was born and lives in Tarragona. This year I start university and they have a colla. I will take part in it as a gralla player. FYI the place where the competition was held was an old bullring which is now used for castells every two years and for concerts. Some “traditions” just don’t fit in the 21st century. The castells remind me of JFK when he said “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Visca Catalunya lliure!
JoAkInss Häesler (1 day ago)
Visca Catalunya i Visca Espanya!
Alba LR (1 month ago)
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
també han oblidat parlar de les colles internacionals, de les colles de catalunya nord i les illes, i de l'origen dels castells lligat a les muixerangues valencianes... etc
MsKmc09 (1 month ago)
What a great short film
DHARMAS & DHARMIKS (1 month ago)
deep Sahay (1 month ago)
Similar thing happens in India on janmashtami
It's All About You (1 month ago)
Dwilly SMTZ (1 month ago)
Jo parlo català
gristor (1 month ago)
@Dwilly SMTZ Parlen dialectes de la mateixa llengua, li diguin com li diguin uns i altres. Normalment, això sí, als que diuen que són llengües diferents el valencià els importa ben poc...
Benicadell Benicadell (1 month ago)
El último valenciano. Disponible en Amazón.
Dwilly SMTZ (1 month ago)
@Benicadell Benicadell no es sembla al català?
Benicadell Benicadell (1 month ago)
Yo parle valencià
Guilherme Matos (1 month ago)
The world needs more NatGeo! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Thanks you guys!
Fumetsu Dragons (1 month ago)
Humans and their traditions always involve hurting themselves or someone else. smart species.
Tody Rodgers (1 month ago)
This reminded me of that Avatar scene.
aztecmixtli (1 month ago)
He said, it's for eveyone, you could be a baker, a doctor, or a popsicle.
Tony Mintz (1 month ago)
Beautiful cinematography to reflect such a powerful cultural practice. Absolutely well done with this short film!
National Geographic (1 month ago)
We're glad you enjoyed watching! If you'd like to learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Oscar Oscar (1 month ago)
Visca els Castellers, freedom for Catalonia.
Mahinda Githaiga (1 month ago)
Rah_ul g (1 month ago)
Synchronous breathing..
Citrus Limonia (1 month ago)
Very well done film, but I'm not into children's participation on this kind of tradition it's too dangerous.
Lluís Burgués Aguilar (1 month ago)
As dangerous as playing soccer as many kids do
montrealais (1 month ago)
Whether in Catalunya or abroad, castellers are not professional athletes or acrobats but are regular people from the neighbourhood. People of all different body types, genders, ages, and origins are needed and welcome in castells.
montrealais (1 month ago)
Albert Gaspà agreed, I'm a member of a colla exterior and I wish that documentaries would quit showing long montages of castells falling just for the shock value, or would at least balance it by talking about statistics and safety features; it misrepresents how often castells fall and makes it look more dangerous than it is.
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
actually is not THAT dangerous, I'm in that, i can tell you there is not the danger level that it may look for people who doesn't know how it works. there are a lot of "colles" that make " castells" all around the world, if there is one near you, i invite you to try it.
Kerry Li (1 month ago)
That have to do with a lot of passion, love, courage and ambition in order to achieve the goal…very impressive and incredibly stunning!!!
Ron B (1 month ago)
As long as they have their indoor plumbing sorted first, more power to them.
sebas space dreamer su (1 month ago)
El Castillo es algo ermoso de los cielos
Kevin Luo (1 month ago)
Couldn't tell if the breath at 6:51 was mine or not.
Gokul Kuttu (1 month ago)
Rah (1 month ago)
thats how people get hurt, that young kid hit his head on the floor!
montrealais (1 month ago)
Since helmets were introduced, there have been no cases of traumatic brain injuries among children in castells
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
accidents and injuries are very rare....but you can keep on telling bananans
dess (1 month ago)
Few years ago kids started wearing helmets because ... well... but still. They learn how to fall on "la pinya" and bruises and even broken ribs and vertebrae injuries, they are strong trained people.
montrealais (1 month ago)
People get hurt doing a lot of things, like football or hockey, both of which are more dangerous than castells.
Not all Gaming (1 month ago)
che idioti X,D
M. Simm (1 month ago)
Clive Barker's In The Hills The Cities.
Soul Chicken (1 month ago)
I was thinking of that i watched this--waiting fir all those people to start climbing on board...
KAWAHI LEONARD (1 month ago)
What countries allow their kids to do this so stoopid
Mr NixxxoN (19 days ago)
@KAWAHI LEONARD this is safer than so many sports. Just because you think its so dangerous doesnt mean it is THAT dangerous.
KAWAHI LEONARD (1 month ago)
montrealais Um no hockey is safe. It's a safe sport provided you know what you're doing. This is plain stupid and dumb.
montrealais (1 month ago)
In Canada we let our kids play ice hockey, which is much more dangerous, but nobody says anything about that
KAWAHI LEONARD (1 month ago)
When they fell all I imagined was bones cracking
Mr NixxxoN (7 days ago)
@Aidan Bandrich i can assure you it is. I know both well. Football players get far more injuries that castellers
Aidan Bandrich (1 month ago)
@Santako Sound System no it's not
Santako Sound System (1 month ago)
@KAWAHI LEONARD Soccer is way more dangerous.
KAWAHI LEONARD (1 month ago)
Lol humans can be weird
Elle (1 month ago)
This was beautiful 💛 The symbolism behind this is so powerful: a unified people working towards a common goal can create something magnificent if and only if we are all supporting each other
National Geographic (1 month ago)
Great observation! To learn more about the significance behind this tradition, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Sheela Noxx (1 month ago)
People are stupid in all world
Reckless Fishing (1 month ago)
Some people like shooting guns for fun some people like to do this, at the end of the day which one kills more people???
sepaol paskiman (1 month ago)
Sarah G (1 month ago)
So beautiful, truly inspiring
Viral Videos (1 month ago)
Inspiring for what?? Wakwkkwkak 😂😂😂😂. Come oonnn hahahhah
Elektra (1 month ago)
What a beautiful culture
Terrence Nicholson (1 month ago)
kill a few bulls, create a few paraplegics, it's all good fun.
Mickey The maltipoo (1 month ago)
The things some people do to put a little fear into their life.
Adrianne Adelle (1 month ago)
This was incredible. Deeply moving. Very human.
National Geographic (1 month ago)
Observers say the practice is symbolic of togetherness, the elimination of class differences, and Catalonia’s welcoming atmosphere. To learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
66 sics (1 month ago)
Impressive but I don’t see the point!
Albert Gaspà (1 month ago)
the point is not the "castell" but all that happens during the trainings, trips, performances, partys, meetings and years
National Geographic (1 month ago)
To learn more about the significance behind this tradition, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31juv83
Rubén Gómez Radioboy (1 month ago)
Free Catalonia!!!
Hira Nath (1 month ago)
Why all the dangerous games and traditions in modern day are celebrated and played in Spain. One such cruel game is bull fighting or matador.
Soul Chicken (1 month ago)
@Rubén Gómez Radioboy Catalonia is an autonomous community of spain. There are a number of such communities--and even a couple cities--that form "Spain". In that regard, Catalonia is its own, stylized nationality--but also very much a part of Spain.
Rubén Gómez Radioboy (1 month ago)
Catalonia is not Spain.