Bringing ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ to the Screen Took Decades—Here’s Why

The label has proven unavoidable. “I write with realism,” novelist Guadalupe Nettel told me over the phone from Mexico City. One of her short stories is about a family that eats insects to reverse a curse, so critics call her work magical realism. “But I wrote it with realism,” she said. “In Mexico, we have these customs. In America, however, they call ‘magical realism’ anything they can’t name.”

García Márquez’s almost mythical rise from an unknown born in a remote Colombian town to the most widely read Spanish-language writer in the world is filled with all sorts of legends. Some of the myth-making was instigated by Gabo himself: He had a mischievous desire to inflate his own story as if it were one of his fictions. As he wrote in a sarcastic letter to Fuentes: “I am not the savior when it comes to Mexican films. But I believe I can be of great help in the effort to bring Latin American novels to the world.”

With the lavish two-part 16-episode adaptation, Netflix hopes to introduce new audiences to the story of seven generations of the doomed Buendía family and their eccentric, wild, passionate, depraved people. , naive, garrulous, incestuous, beautiful, sad and often crazy living in Macondo.

It’s an important (and risky) endeavor. I asked Francisco Ramos, VP of Latin American content and godfather of the Netflix project, if One hundred years will be a tropical version of two other hit series revolving around family, Game of Thrones And Crown. “Well,” he told me over video call from Mexico City without missing a beat, “The Buendías are definitely more fun than the Windsors.” The raw materials are all there. As García Márquez knew well, the difficult part lies in the execution.

Gabo has always loved movies. His eldest son, Rodrigo García Barcha, himself a writer and film director, recalled his father’s love for the work of Akira Kurosawa. red beard, Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, and by Alain Resnais Providence, to name a few. He also loved Sam Peckinpah and was sympathetic to the Italian neorealists. García Barcha recalls that when he was a teenager, his parents took him to see it Last Tango in Paris And The story of Adele H.

By the 70s, after Gabo had become relatively wealthy, he spent a lot of time and money on moving pictures. He was involved in television production in Colombia, wrote scripts, and helped found a film school in Cuba, where he held screenwriting workshops. Fernando Restrepo, his partner in the Colombian venture, once told me that Gabo had been trying to start a film production company he planned to call Solitude & Company, which I borrowed it as a title for an oral history I wrote about his life.

His two most beloved works—Chronicle of a death foretold And Love in the time of cholera—was adapted into a movie, but the novel doesn’t do it justice either. The former, directed by Francesco Rosi, plays out like an Italian opera gone wrong. The latter, directed by Mike Newell, is overly cartoonish and dramatized and stars non-English-speaking Colombian actors in the title roles. “Absolutely terrible,” López-Calvo said via email of the multiple adaptations, adding that he thought the small screen would be a great fit for the novel. “Today, a television series seems ideal for such a complex and intricate work. And TV series have changed dramatically in recent years…. Maybe Gabo will be fine today, who knows!”

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First edition 1967 of Márquez’s masterpiece, published by Sudamericana Editorial, Buenos Aires.

López-Calvo was referring to the fact that Gabo never wanted his most famous book to be made into a movie, but preferred readers to imagine the characters themselves. He said it would take 100 hours to tell the story properly, and the only way he could begin to envision an acceptable adaptation was if it was in Spanish and shot in Colombia.

But in truth, Gabo said many things and often they were intentionally contradictory. He loved hanging out with Hollywood stars—he visited Robert Redford at the Sundance Institute, and Francis Ford Coppola once cooked pasta at his home in Havana—even as he refused to sell the rights to his work. His masterpiece to luminaries including William Friedkin, Werner Herzog, and Dino De Laurentis. However, there is an obscure Japanese adaptation from 1981. Shortly after Gabo’s death in 2014, I asked his agent, the legendary Carmen Balcells, if there was a faithful adaptation. whether the novel is realistic and complete. Her answer was absolute: “He never wanted a movie to be made One hundred years. And even to this day, that is still a desire to be respected by his family—something that I think will be maintained forever.” His children have different recollections of their father’s wishes. “He was always a little bit interested in turning the book into a movie,” says García Barcha, but “he said no so many times that the offers disappeared.”


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