Fame Is Temporary, Memories Are Forever
The music industry is a fickle, relentless and lucrative business. Set in the heart of the 1980’s during the infancy of manufactured pop bands and reality music competitions came an idea from Belter Records that changed the lives of 5 (and later 8) children forever. Bringing together young teenagers with high energy and charisma, Parchis’ initial newspaper ad blew up into a glamorous, lucrative music career that catapulted these children straight into the limelight.
The documentary begins with a look at the origins of the band itself. Interspersed with a mix of face to face interviews with the group members, we see the kids coming together and recording their first LP. With over 20 tracks under their belt and a number 1 hit with ‘En La Armada’, the trickle of success soon starts to become a flowing stream as the kids start performing on the road and begin to really catch on in the public’s eye. So much so that they have a collection of films to their name – with the first titled ‘Children’s War’.
However, its not until they’re taken to Argentina that their success really blows up. Here, we see the first cracks begin to form as Tino becomes the label favourite and grows to be the leader of the group. This ultimately causes friction to grow between them all and acts as the catalyst for their downfall. Of course, things aren’t that simple and between the inner conflicts in the group, the young kids growing up and the exploitative nature of the record label, Parchis ultimately falls apart, ending on a surprisingly uplifting note as we see them all reunited again years later.
In a way, Parchis is a documentary that sheds light on the fickle nature of fame and how people within the industry exploit this for their own gain. Seeing the little amount of money these kids received and the dramatic implosion of Belter Records after their lucrative pay-day really hammers home how careful you have to be in this industry. While it’s a far cry from my experience of DJing out in clubs and chasing down the promoter after-hours to get paid, the same exploitative figureheads trying to pull a fast one rings true throughout the industry. As a side note, the promoter that night had gone home and I ended up without a pay check. Good for the club, bad for my bank balance.
Between the face to face interviews are the usual array of archival footage you’d expect, mostly from live performances and interviews. Nestled between these two styles are neat stop-motion segments, with one in particular showing all the memorabilia the group have accumulated during their time in the spotlight. A lot of the scenes also include segments from their own films but at times feel oddly placed given the tone and gravitas of what’s being shared at that time.
Having said all that, Parchis shines a light on the ups and downs in the music industry. It’s a reminder of how quickly fame can come, and how fast the sharks can swim toward you at the faintest whiff of vulnerability. The reunion at the end is a nice touch though and seeing the tight bond these kids have together after all these years – even Oscar who had his fair share of problems with the group – is a really nice inclusion. It’s a reminder that no matter how far away you drift from those closest to you, you’ll always find your way back eventually.