Magical screen slump overshadows new Márquez series One Hundred Years of Solitude | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Magical screen slump overshadows new Márquez series One Hundred Years of Solitude

Apr 21, 2024 03:29 PM IST

An adaptation of One Hundred Years of Solitude is coming to Netflix. Love in the Time of Cholera tops the list of screen failures of Márquez’s works.

In 1987, Gabriel García Márquez published a book based on the making of a movie secretly by exiled Chilean director Miguel Littín. Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín by the Colombian Nobel laureate narrated how Littín posed as an Uruguayan businessman to enter Chile and film under the nose of dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Also read | Gabriel Garcia Marquez Birth Anniversary: Remembering the legendary author

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez’s most famous novel published in 1967, has never been adapted for screen before.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez’s most famous novel published in 1967, has never been adapted for screen before.

Acta General de Chile (General Act of Chile), the 1986 Spanish language documentary on the trampling of democracy in Chile by Littín, once a jury member at the International Film Festival of India, Goa, bombed at the box office. It hasn't been a different story for movies adapted from the works of Márquez either.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude series

As a new series on Márquez’s most famous novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, executive-produced by his sons, Rodrigo García Barcha and Gonzalo García Barcha, is slated to stream on Netflix soon, the ghosts of previous screen adaptations of his books are casting a long shadow.

Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez’s works have met with little success on the screen.
Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez’s works have met with little success on the screen.

Previous Márquez adaptations

From Chronicle of a Death Foretold, mentioned in interviews by Márquez as his favourite work, to Memories of My Melancholy Whores, his last book written in 2004, none of the films based on his books has mesmerised movie fans worldwide as his magical realism did for decades and continues to do.

Love in the Time of Cholera was a failure

When the cinematic adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera came out in 2007, the Time magazine asked its readers in a review to “skip the film and reread the book”. It didn’t help that British filmmaker Mike Newell, who directed the Javier Bardem-starring movie, had only two years before made the successful Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and was also the fan favourite for his universally acclaimed Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Love in the Time of Cholera (2007) was a failure despite its ensemble cast and successful director.
Love in the Time of Cholera (2007) was a failure despite its ensemble cast and successful director.

Of Love and Other Demons and other films

Two years later, adaptation of another big Márquez book, Of Love and Other Demons, by Costa Rican filmmaker Hilda Hidalgo, met a similar fate on the silver screen despite its daunting 18th century tale of a 12-year-old girl brought to a convent for exorcism.

“Some of the biggest names in filmmaking have attempted to bring Márquez’s stories to the screen, but haven’t succeeded in making it work,” says National Award-winning film critic Saibal Chatterjee. “It is difficult to capture Márquez visually because magical realism is essentially a thing of imagination,” he adds.

No One Writes to the Colonel adaptation did not work

In 1987, celebrated Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi brought Chronicle of a Death Foretold, another tragic tale with one of the literary world’s finest opening lines about its hero Santiago Nasar’s impending demise to cinema, but failed to make a splash across the world despite landing the opening film status at Cannes festival.

No One Writes to the Colonel, Márquez’s 1961 novella about a war veteran waiting for the long-pending arrival of his pension, was adapted for the big screen by Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein in 1999, again without much success.

Celebrated Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi adapted Chronicle of a Death Foretold in 1987.
Celebrated Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi adapted Chronicle of a Death Foretold in 1987.

Márquez fans were excited about two possible adaptations when The Godfather actor Marlon Brando sent a fax to the writer in 1997 saying he wished to make a film based on his 1975 novel, The Autumn of the Patriarch, the story of a tyrant, and The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola wrote to him in 2008 about filming his 1989 novel, The General in His Labyrinth, the story of Venezuelan military leader Simón Bolívar who dreamed of uniting South America. Even Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa showed interest though none of them ever got made.

Of Love and Other Demons by Costa Rican filmmaker Hilda Hidalgo in 2009 failed to move film buffs.
Of Love and Other Demons by Costa Rican filmmaker Hilda Hidalgo in 2009 failed to move film buffs.

Argentinian director Fernando Burri made A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings in 1988 based on the 1968 short story of an elderly man with wings landing in a Caribbean island after being blown off course during a tropical storm. It didn’t impress the cinemagoers.

Mexican director Ruy Guerra’s 1983 film, Eréndira, based on the 1972 short story, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother about a 12-year-old girl setting her grandmother’s house on fire too didn’t make any waves.

Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein’s 1999 adaptation of No One Writes to the Colonel didn’t create any splash on screen.
Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein’s 1999 adaptation of No One Writes to the Colonel didn’t create any splash on screen.

Chilean director Littín made one of his own in 1979, The Widow of Montiel, the story of a widow’s relation with her town after the death of her husband. Cuban-Canadian Tamara Segura, who studied cinema in Cuba’s International Film School of San Antonio de los Banos co-founded by Márquez at then president Fidel Castro’s request, adapted The Woman Who Arrived at Six, the short story of a sex worker who wants to quit her job.

Danish director Henning Carlsen adapted Memories of My Melancholy Whores in 2011, but the tale of a nonagenarian reporter falling in love with a young sex worker didn’t charm film buffs.

The one work that held out against adaptation attempts was One Hundred Years of Solitude, which Márquez, who died in 2014 in Mexico City where he came to live with his wife Mercedes Barcha half-a-century before, didn’t give green light to. Many thought the book, which sold 30 million copies globally, was unfilmable. Until now.

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