Friday, January 14, 2011

Alatriste: Elusive no longer

Remember this post? This is three years ago...I was pining then!!!

It seems like I have wanted to see the Alatriste movie since the dawn of time. Well, at least since I first got word of it.

I have read ALL of the Alatriste books since their English publications began being released. I love them. Veteran soldier and sword-for-hire, Diego Alatriste, runs around Madrid all swashbuckling. Sometimes there is a battle; or a lover; or a boat; or tavern-drinking; or swordplay and conspiracy… the surrender at Breda….the Spanish Inquisition and a particularly gruesome auto-da-fe.

All fun.

17th Century Madrid is a remarkable canvas ---especially when rendered by Alatriste’s page ( and the series’ narrator), Inigo Balboa. Inigo’s father, Lope, was a friend and comrade of Alatriste’s during one-of-the-many-wars-he-fights-in and after he is killed in action, Alatriste takes care of his son.

Both Inigo and Alatriste have complicated loves: Diego adores a married Spanish actress and Inigo pines for the Machiavellian temptress Angelica.

The film version captures most of it.

Be ye forewarned. If you have not read the books and are not familiar with the series, the movie will make no sense to you. Because, it doesn’t really have a plot. It is just a series of vignettes about Alatriste’s life: snatching the best moments of the books.

You know those VH1 countdowns where they pick the “Top 30 scandals of the 80s” or what have you? This is sort of like that: “ Top 50 Alatriste Book Moments” and they filmed them and patched them together and that’s what you get.

So, as a film separate from the series, it is not that good of an adaptation. But, as a companion TO the series, it is a wonderful homage.

Beautifully filmed: expertly sub-titled. The second most expensive film Spain has ever produced.

It looks and feels and tastes and sounds JUST as I imagined it to. The casting is PERFECTION: from Viggo Mortensen’s swarthy and silent Alatriste, to Inigo, to Angelica ( she is divine) … even to the peripheral characters like Don Francesco.

I have rarely seen a film that so matched my conceptualization of a fictional world. For that, I am so glad I waited ( and waited and waited ) for Alatriste to be released in Region 1.

The Alatriste books made me crave Madrid and the film makes me want to go there even more so.

I really enjoyed it. I REALLY loved the guy who played Inigo.


Unknown said...

Viggo as Alatriste is yummy. Thanks for sharing the pic. :)

Jess said...

I need to catch up on my Alatriste reading!

Rachel said...

If you are uninitiated to the series ( and I mean the whole series--- all 6 books), then this movie will just be a mad blur. They plummet you in the middle of the world... they don't give backstory.

I don't think non-fans would enjoy it very much.