The Amazon Prime Video series starring Oscar Jaenada is one of the most ambitious projects dealing with the adventures of the New World
In 1519, Hernan Cortes began the conquest of Mexico, Fernando de Magallanes and Juan Sebastian Elcano left Sanlucar de Barrameda (Cadiz) on a trade expedition that would take them around the world, and Pedrarias Davila founded Panama, the first Spanish city in the American Pacific. Taking advantage of the 500th anniversary of these discoveries, there have been a good handful of historical series about the exploits of the conquerors of the New World, whose adventures were so incredible and intense (each with a greater or lesser degree of controversy) that few writers could or need to embellish.
Hernán, now available on Amazon Prime Video, narrates the voyage of Hernan Cortes in eight episodes to create what would later become known as New Spain. Óscar Jaenada is charged with bringing life to Hernan Cortes, and producers’ intentions were “neither to convert him into an idol nor a villain”. “If it’s seen without prejudice, everyone will like it.”, requests Jaenada, who defends the historical rigor of the series tooth and nail in anticipation of the inevitable political readings.
Although Hernán has its fair share of action and blood, there’s also talk of political strategies, alliances and betrayals. The jumps in the timeline, combined with its obsession with sticking to the script are this series’ hallmarks which compel audiences to remain glued to their screens unblinking, so they don’t get lost in the complex political chessboard that is future Mexico.
Heralded as “the most ambitious series filmed in Spanish”, this Hispanic-Mexican co-production (Onza and Dopamine) features an international cast including, among others, Víctor Clavijo, Michel Brown, Dagoberto Gama, Aura Garrido and Ishbel Bautista in the role of Malinche, and who deserves a series of her own. Digital effects bearing the trademark of El Ranchito, the crew behind the Game of Thrones’ dragons, who have digitally reconstructed the mythical Tenochtitlan.
But this Hernan Cortes will not be the only one available on Amazon. Javier Bardem stars in and produces a four-hour miniseries on the relationship of the Spanish conqueror with the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal are listed as executive producers and Colombians Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego will sit in the director’s chair on this drama to begin filming in 2020. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) has rewritten a 1960 Dalton Trumbo screenplay intended to be interpreted by Kirk Douglas.
Outside Mexico, RTVE will embark on an ambitious four-episode international series on the journey of Magellan and Elcano. The project is to be shot in Spanish and will “have an A-list artistic and technical team” to recreate what many consider “the world’s first globalization.” While awaiting the series’ arrival, those itching to find out more about this first circumnavigation of the globe should check out the documentary First Trip Around the World on Canal Historia, which includes fictional interviews with the protagonists of the feat.
A more feminine tone
To demonstrate that the history of the New World is not only written by men, RTVE, Boomerang TV and Chilevisión are to begin filming the adventures of Ines Suarez, the only Spanish woman who embarked on and participated in the conquest of Chile. With a budget of one million euros per episode, Ines del alma mia, based on Isabel Allende’s homonymous novel and stars Elena Rivera, Eduardo Noriega and Benjamín Vicuña.
Movistar + also has Conquistadores: Adventvm in its programming schedule, which recreates the first thirty years of the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World. In strict pursuit of an attention to detail and realism, this production is filmed in 4K in natural settings on location in both Spain and Brazil.