Boundless (Sin límites), available on Prime Video from June 10, had its origins back in 2018, in the stately offices of Spain’s Ministry of Defense. It was then that the Spanish Government set up an executive committee to design and organize celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world. Around the table sat the then chiefs of Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) – Rosa María Mateo, RTVE’s provisional administrator, and Fernando López Puig, its head of content. In this global era, where streaming services have breached cultural and language barriers, it was wisely decided that Spain would commemorate this epic milestone in its history – the Magellan-Elcano expedition – by immortalizing it in a series involving an international production and with a more than decent budget of about €20 million.
Boundless was conceived of as both an educational tool and an entertaining and action-packed production to enjoy all in one. “The Executive Committee of the Quincentenary hopes that this series will be one of the most far-reaching ways to raise awareness of the feat,” said a Spanish Government press release.
British director Simon West, with a long history in action and adventure films (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The General’s Daughter and The Expendables 2) was placed in charge of the production. With the confidence such credentials bring, West would tell high-ranking army officials in person what he foresaw on his ‘nautical chart’. “I’d like the series to convey what it was really like to sail on those ships. I want everyone to realize what it meant in those days to embark on such a maritime journey and all that they had to go through,” he said.
“I’m going to bring to this everything I’ve ever learned in Hollywood and as well as being historically accurate, it’s going to be fast-paced, entertaining and action-packed, so that it also appeals to young viewers,” he added.
“Considered one of the greatest achievements in history, the exploit forever transformed trade, economy, astronomy and understanding of the world.”
The first trip around the world
Rodrigo Santoro and ‘The Professor’, Álvaro Morte, respectively embody Portugal’s Ferdinand Magellan and the Basque Country’s Juan Sebastián Elcano, two men united in one historical endeavor – an expedition that sought to find a new trade route from Spain to the Spice Islands and that ended up – practically by chance, and to the chagrin of flat earthers – completing the first voyage around the world.
Magellan lived to see his dream come true, but not to savor the later glory. Under his captaincy, 239 sailors set sail from Seville on August 10, 1519, heading west. Three years later, only 18 came back alive. They were sick, starving and aboard the only ship to complete the voyage out of the original fleet of five. It was under Elcano’s command that they were able to return, albeit in appalling conditions.
Along the way, they circled the globe in a journey of 14,460 leagues (69,813 km), discovering and naming a new ocean – the Pacific – and changing the course of history. Considered one of the greatest achievements in history, the exploit forever transformed trade, economy, astronomy and understanding of the world.
Rodrigo Santoro and Álvaro Morte are the cornerstones of this fictionalized account, masterfully portraying Magellan’s pigheadedness and Elcano’s dogged determination. Both explorers will go down in history for what they achieved in the name of King Charles V. Also not to be forgotten are the hardships, famines, riots and attempted mutinies, as well as the abject misery that plagued the entire voyage and almost brought it to ruin. Such suffering, both major and minor, with which human history is riddled, is given prominence in this rendering of their mission, adding to its credibility.
Premiere in Spanish-speaking countries
Boundless involved building a replica of the ship Victoria in a giant tank at Pinewood Studios in the Dominican Republic. Almost the entire cast traveled there, including the actors Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Captain Cartagena), Adrián Lastra (Captain Mendoza), rising star Carlos Cuevas (Martino), Pepón Nieto (Father Bartolomé), Raúl Tejón (Gómez de Espinosa) , Gonçalo Diniz (Duarte Barbosa) and Manuel Morón (Cardinal Fonseca).
The ambitious shoot also combined first-class visual effects with use of natural backdrops and historic locations in the Basque Country (Azkoitia, Azkorri, Lazkao) and Navarra (Olite and Pamplona Cathedral), as well as in Seville, Huelva and Madrid.
Boundless was produced by MONO Films and KILIMA Media, in collaboration with Fulwell73 and in association with RTVE, EiTB and Canal Sur. The screenplay was written by Patxi Amezcua (Desaparecidos, Gun City, El aviso). The series premieres on June 10 exclusively on Prime Video in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, with plans for a later release in other countries. TVE will screen it on free-to-air TV on a date yet to be announced. Thus, 500 years after the event, the series will relaunch what was one of the most extraordinary voyages in human history.