« As a Latin American I always had a pretty critical attitude about what the conquest has meant, but as a result of starting to make this story we put ourselves in the shoes of the conquerors: without knowing where they were going, months and months on a boat, arriving and going through the jungle, mountains, rivers … You had to have a lot of courage. They are admirable. I have learned to respect them » This is how Alejandro Bazzano summarizes (Havana, 1963) his experience at the head of ‘Inés del alma mía‘, the ambitious project of RTVE -together with Chilevisión and the producer Boomerang- that translates Isabel Allende’s novel onto the small screen.
Elena Rivera gives life to Inés Suárez
The director tells us the details from the filming stop at the Castillo de La Calahorra, Granada, where part of the interiors of the palace of Francisco Pizarro in Cuzco from the viceregal period were recreated. Cuban by birth, Uruguayan at heart and with a Chilean family, Bazzano has participated in series such as ‘Presunto culpable’, ‘Victim number 8’ and the first two seasons of ‘La Casa de Papel’. Here the work is shared with the Chilean Nicolás Acuña, with four of the eight episodes per head. No more than 55 minutes per episode for a series with an eight million euros budget that will first be seen on Spanish Television, then on Chilevisión and, finally, on the Amazon Prime Video platform.
It is a journey to the sixteenth century by Inés Suárez (Elena Rivera), an advanced time to her time who crossed the Atlantic in search of her husband, fallen in battle, to end up founding Santiago de Nueva Extremadura -current Santiago de Chile – after joining the Pedro de Valdivia expedition (Eduardo Noriega). After enlisting as a servant for Pizarro (Francesc Orella) to accept, Inés was a fundamental piece in the conquest and subsequent defense of the city. A story of hard battles and conspiracies, but also of passion. « Sometimes I compare the love story of Inés and Pedro with that of Marco Antonio and Cleopatra « , explains Paco Mateo, screenwriter in charge of adapting Allende’s text. « Without attending to the times, it has a closeness that makes anyone say ‘this has happened to me with my partner’. It is a story of a couple since they have known each other, fallen in love and how that love is deteriorating as it happens in any other « , points to the keys of a project that has the endorsement of the author: »Allende was reviewing the scripts and shared his impressions, which must be said were quite positive« , Mateo recognizes with the » honor « and the » responsibility « of adapting the best-selling and most translated Spanish writer in history.
There have been no complaints from Chile. When there is violence it is counted and that gives an idea of the objectivity of historians
Like the directors, Mateo trusts the veracity of the chroniclers of the time, such as Pedro Mariño de Lobera and Jerónimo de Vivar: « We have been faithful to the novel, and Allende is based on Spanish historians. They tell the truth, like journalists. If somewhere they get along very well with the Indians, they reach agreements, there is collaboration; in another, Valdivia reaches a town and orders the ears and noses of all the people to be cut in retaliation for hostility« reflects the screenwriter, sure that » there have been no complaints from Chile « about the vision of the facts. » As in any process of conquest, as in the Romanization, there were very good things and very bad things. When there is violence they tell it and that gives an idea of objectivity. It is a chronicle does not judge the conquerors« he concludes.
Antonia Giesen as Cecilia, an Inca princess
Along the same lines, Bazzano emphasizes that Isabel Allende « was in charge of giving a very Latin American touch » to the novel. « She does not take sides and we follow that path. It is an undeniable historical fact, there is no attempt by anyone to do revisionism. The Spanish went to conquer the world and found that world. In that world there were already many injustices, empires and tribes that dominated other tribes. Two cultures with their characteristics were found and these shocks are painful. In history there is much suffering, injustice, but you have to understand that historical moment and put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists both on one side and the other. The Indians suffered it and obviously also the Spanish. Just when Inés arrived in Cuzco, a civil war between the Pizarristas and Almagristas had just ended. History is full of contradictory facts. This is why it is so exciting, because it takes you to a time when the world moved differently, « argues the director.
A three-way shoot
Jorge Redondo, executive producer of Boomerang, highlights the interest of Peruvians to know this part of the story. « They really want to see an era in Cuzco that has barely been touched, like the reign of the Pizarros. Redondo attests to the complications of a three-way shoot between Spain, Peru and Chile, as well as in places as beautiful as inaccessible as the jungles of Panama and the Atacama desert. « Wardrobes have had to be tripled, chartering two ships, one to Peru and the other to Chile, » he explains of a shipment that includes 300 meticulously made looks of Spaniards and Incas with their corresponding robes, ponchos and boots. Simpler, in quotes, was to rescue the essence of the Mapuche people. « His shawl has changed very little from the 16th century until now, there are photographs that date that it is similar now, » says Loles Galeán, a costume designer in charge of working in « Palmeras en la Nieve ».
Elena Rivera, central axis
If Inés Suárez is the protagonist of this story from her native Plasencia to the conquest of Chile, Elena Rivera was also the central axis from the first steps of the project. Known for her roles in ‘Tell me how it happened’ and ‘The truth’, the Aragonese woman sets out on a historical adventure with the support of the entire team. « When we saw her at the casting, she impressed us all, it was a unanimous decision, » says Bazzano, who had already worked with her on ‘Toledo’ when she was only 19 years old.
Pedro de Valdivia (Noriega) and Inés Suárez (Rivera) will cross jungles and deserts together
« She is a great actress, she has something very special, » says the director, convinced of her value in the process, « from 17 to 40 years » that the protagonist covers. « Inés is innocent and young, but she still has that strong character. He is a character that has to have a lot of strength and Elena has it, but at the same time she has tenderness for the sequences of love and friendship« affirms the Cuban, who also values the identity of the character in the series. » From the minute you see a person concerned about the poor and helpless, with a noble heart, but even a good heart, if faced with a situation limit and you have to save him and his from devastation, you can commit extreme acts. «
Bazzano was also key in the election, a posteriori, of Eduardo Noriega as Valdivia, since they had agreed on « You can’t hide » for Telemundo. « She has the right bearing and age, about 15 years older than Elena, the difference that Inés and Valdivia had. The chemistry between them is great« , celebrates the filmmaker on a cast completed by Benjamin Vicuña such as Rodrigo de Quiroga, Carlos Bardem (Almagro), Enrique Arce (De La Hoz), Antonia Giesen (Cecilia), Federico Aguado (Hernando Pizarro), Carlos Serrano (Juan de Málaga ), Ismael Martínez (Aguirre) and Juan Fernández (Don Alonso), among others.