The following are all films based on García Márquez’s fictional works his short stories and novels. Television adaptations and Gabo screenplays are dealt with on their own pages. Reviews and comments are welcome!
María de mi corazón
(Maria my Dearest)
In Spanish; 137 minutes
Directed by Jaime Humberto Hermosillo
The IMBD has an entry on this film with a summary provided by Micel Rudoy: “A very fantastic story about a robber (Hector) and a magician (Maria). Once they were lovers, but he left her. One fine day they re-encounter each other and become lovers again. She takes him away from the ‘bad road’ and they then work as magicians at children’s parties. One day, while she was away in a business trip, her car cracks up in the middle of the highway, during a storm. She is picked up by a mental hospital’s bus that takes her there. Now she cannot get out because everyone thinks she is mentally ill.”
In Spanish with subtitles; 103 minutes
Cinematheque Collection, a division of Media Home Enterprises; CC8001; 1985
Directed by Ruy Guerra
Claudia Ohana as Eréndira
Irene Papas as Erendira’s grandmother
Oliver Wehe as Ulysses
Michel Lonsdale as the Senator
Rufus as the Photographer
This film is a good but not excellent adpatation of the 1978 novella, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother. I will reprint the blurb on the back of the video, which erroneously attributes the story of Eréndira solely to One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The only film Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez has allowed to be made of his work, ERENDIRA is based on a section of his masterpiece, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. A teenage girl is exploited as a sexual slave by her greedy grandmother. The incomparable Erendira becomes a legend throughout the land, selling her body to dozens of men nightly. But when this third world Cinderella finally meets her Prince Charming, their only escape is to murder grandma, whose lust for life makes her nearly indestructible.
An erotic black comedy laden with sexual fantasy, bawdy humor, surreal prankishness and sly political allegory, ERENDIRA achieves a fairytale realism that reflects the distinctively original prose of García Márquez. Irene Papas gives a hilarious performance as the evil witch, while luscious Claudia Ohana makes a sensually magnetic Erendira.
The movie has some definite strong points, the strongest being the performance of Papas as Eréndira’s heartless grandmother. She brings a perfect amount of zeal to the role of the witch, deftly combining cruelty and pathos. With her streaked hair and her long staff, she dominates every scene she is in, whether she is laying a curse on fleeing soldiers, crying out in her sleep, or imperiously commanding her Indian servants. You feel a sense of terror in her implacable presence, but that terror is coupled with a sense of pity; Papas shows you the fear inside the old crone’s heart, never letting her character slip into a two-dimensional caricature. Ohana makes an interesting Eréndira as well, bringing to the role a heartbreaking fragility tempered by a certain aloof, even cold, distance.
The film uses many visual tricks to bring to life García Márquez’s prose, but they are applied unevenly. Some are quite good; for instance, the beginning of the film evokes a haunting sense of timelessness which is unfortunately not sustained it is ruined by the first sight of a pick-up truck. Also effective are the moaning wind that accompanies the Grandmother whenever she is at the peak of her powers; the butterflies and birds that sprout into being as political metaphors, and the faint luminosity imparted to various objects throughout the film. Some effects, however, seemed awkward or haphazardly thrown in; in particular the golden oranges seemed a bit strained, and the handling of the Senator was at times awkward. I think that with a bit more vision on the part of the filmmakers, the whole narrative could have been kept aloft; sadly, the untimely lulls and uncomfortable transitions kept rudely grounding the film.
Still, I would recommend Eréndira to any fans of García Márquez’s fictions. It is often uncanny to see some of his ideas come to life on the screen; and the transition they make when doing so can be quite interesting. Things that seemed “quaint” or just unusual when confined to his prose became touched with the sinister; and some conversations that appear neutral in his writing take on a hidden emotional depth when actually spoken aloud. Bringing his style to film is not an easy task, and in the end I think that Guerra did an admirable job. Having seen this film, I would love to see a different director’s interpretation of García Márquez’s work. (Peter Greenaway, Wim Wenders, and Neil Jordan are a few that come to mind.)
You can find out more at the IMDB.
Cronaca di una morte annunciata
(Chronicle of a Death Foretold)
In Italian; 109 minutes
Directed by Francesco Rosi
Rupert Everett as Bayardo San Roman
Ornella Muti as Angela Vicario
Gian Maria Volonté as Dr. Cristo Bedoya
Irene Papas as Angela’s mother
An Italian film shot in the Colombian town of Mompox, you can find out more at the IMDB. Here is a plot summary (in charming English) by Jean-Marie Berthiaume: “A small village in Latin America. Santiago have been knife in the morning. It surprise nobody. The Vicario brothers have openly declared the would kill him to avenge the lost honour of their young sister. It’s the way and custom of the country. Nothing and nobody would have prevent it. It was a death foretold. Let see how and why.”
Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes
(A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings)
Directed by Fernando Birri
The IMBD has a small entry on this film, where you will find this plot summary by Bill Smith: “A strange man appears in a poor village. He has very large wings growing from his back. The family in whose yard he lands shelters him in a chicken coop and exploits him as an angel in a carnival atmosphere. His message is not necessarily what one expects from a creature of Heaven.”
Mujer que llegaba a las seis
In Spanish; 10 minutes
Directed by Arturo Flores and Rogelio Jaramillo
Writing credits: Arturo Flores & Rogelio Jaramillo; Story by Gabriel García Márquez
The IMBD has a small entry on this production. Maximiliano Maza provides this plot summary: “Reina (a prostitute) walks into a small cafeteria at 6:15. She’s late for her daily rendez-vous with Pepe, the cafeteria owner. She’s nervous and determined to quit her job. When Pepe asks her why, she says she’s tired. Maybe its true . . . or maybe she killed her last client and needs an alibi.”
Eyes of a Blue Dog
This one is a complete mystery to me! The IMBD has a small entry on this film.
Gabriel García Márquez Collection:
Letters From The Park, Miracle In Rome, The Summer Of Miss Forbes, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, I’m The One You’re Looking For and The Fable Of The Beautiful Pigeon Fancier.
In Spanish with subtitles, 6 tapes (8 hours); $119.98
Mike McVey first alerted me to this: a boxed set of six “Made for TV” Gabo films, available through the Internet. Here is the information from their Web site:
Nobel-prize winning author García Márquez has a passionate love of film as well. Using the cinematic talents of a new wave of directors from Latin America, he finds another new outlet for his storytelling brilliance.
Based on his novels and stories, these six stunning films by Latin America’s emerging directors capture García Márquez’s fascination with the sexual and spiritual aspects of love. Included are Letters From The Park, Miracle In Rome, The Summer Of Miss Forbes, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, I’m The One You’re Looking For and The Fable Of The Beautiful Pigeon Fancier.
A dazzling mix of dream-like images, humor and earthy sensuality, these magnificent films tell the stories of one of the greatest writers of our time in a superb new way. (English subtitles) 8 hrs. 16 mins. on six videocassettes. $119.98.
These videos are also available seperately through Applause Learning Resources (1-800-277-5287; 85 Fernwood Lane, Roslyn, NY 11576-1431; $29.95 each) and Critic’s Choice Video (www.ccvideo.com; $19.95 each). You can order the whole set through Amazon.com here:
Garcia Marquez Collection; Gabriel Marquez; VHS Tape; $101.90
El Coronel no Tiene Quien le Escriba
(No One Writes to the Colonel)
In Spanish; 118 minutes
Directed by Arturo Ripstein
This film is a recent production of Gabo’s novella, No One Writes to the Colonel. The description below from the Press Kit is succinct, but don’t read it unless you want to have the ending spoiled.
Marisa Paredes as Lola
Fernando Lujan as the Colonel
Salma Hayak as Julia
Ernesto Yañezas Don Sabas
Odiseo Bichir as Doctor Pardo
Rafael Inclan as Padre Angel
Daniel Giménez Cacho as Nogales, el gallero
The Colonel waits. They promised him a pension, which for years has remained a promise unfulfilled. Every Friday, solemn and dressed in his finest suit, the Colonel waits by the dock in anticipation of the letter announcing the arrival of his pension. Everyone in the small town knows that he waits in vain. He knows it too. And every Friday, his wife watches him at the mirror dressing and preparing to pick up the letter which for years has eluded him. But the Colonel, eyes closed to the all too evident truth, stands by his dream if not, what else remains for him? There is hunger in the Colonel’s house. His wife is a sack of bones consumed by asthma, and the Colonel lives ashamed of his poverty with the shame befitting a decent man. Against wind and tide, against hunger and against his wife’s objections, repeated like a litany, “What will we eat?” the Colonel’s reply is terse it is a reply he has choked back for more than twenty years: “We will eat shit!”
Time magazine ran a small review of this film in the May 31, 1999 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that review, by Richard Corliss:
In Ripstein’s No One Writes to the Colonel, an acute adaptation of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, the old colonel (Fernando Lujan) goes each Friday to the post office to see if his long-awaited pension has come through. He knows it will not; so does his loving, exasperated wife (Marisa Paredes), still grieving over the death of their son the year before. But in this film of rapturous melancholy, life can be given meaning and drama by a man’s stubborn pride, a woman’s nagging devotion. Like the colonel, Lujan has a mission: to elevate the grim routine of poverty and failure to a high mass of defiance. He does that by showing, subtly, a heart that has been broken but still beats with vengeance.
Derek Malcom published a review of this film, which he saw at the Cannes 1999 Film Festival. I will provide an edited extract here:
The story by Gabriel García Márquez runs to 22 pages. Arturo Ripstein’s film upon which it is based, and which is clearly a tribute to the author, is two hours long. When you’ve noted that, you may guess what’s wrong with this competition entry by Mexico’s most distinguished director. It takes a small, precise and perfectly structured work and makes it into something far less dramatic and forceful.
That said, this is an affectionate, admiring translation from book to screen, discovering in it much that García Márquez left to the imagination of his readers. Chiefly that people whose lives have failed can still redeem themselves through the power of love. This is not sentimentally laid out before us. Ripstein is too sophisticated and ironic for that. But it is underlined in the very last words of the film. “What are we going to do now?” says the wife to the husband. “We will have to eat shit,” he replies. But even if the two central characters have nothing to eat, they have each other. It is not an utterly hopeless ending.
The characters are a retired Colonel and his asthma-wracked wife who live in a small rain-sodden Mexican township in penury in an old and crumbling house, remembering better days and visiting the postman every day in the hope that he will bring tidings of the pension that is the military man’s due. We know it will never come, and so in his heart does the Colonel. Instead, he sets all his store on the fighting cock which he treats as a pet and which, if the worst comes to the worst, can provide him with an income in the ring.
His wife is doubtful about her husband’s hopes, suffers the fighting cock none too gladly but she succours his illusions because they are all he has. He hasn’t even got a son any more because of a quarrel over a prostitute during which he was killed. This is a world where sadness and regrets dominate, but at least The Colonel and his wife are together, and that is its saving grace.
You can find out more at the IMDB if you wish. I’d like to thank Lucy Virgen for much of this information.
Love in the Time of Cholera
November 16, 2007
Directed by Mike Newell
Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Fermina Daza
Javier Bardem as Florentino Ariza
Benjamin Bratt as Dr. Juvenal Urbino
Set for release November 2007, Mike Newell’s Love In the Time of Cholera looks to be the largest, big-budget adaptation of a Gabo work to date. From the Stone Village Web site:
Based on the acclaimed book by the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, adapted for the screen by Academy Award winner Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).
The epic love story of a man who waits fifty years for the love of his life amid the lush, romantic backdrop of early 20th century South America.