TOUR SPAIN THROUGH LITERARY ADAPTATIONS TO THE SCREEN
From the beginnings of the seventh art, the cinema accepted the mission of bringing other forms of artistic expression closer to the public. A good film is capable of bringing together all the great arts and condensing them into an audiovisual channel that allows it to be broadcast on a screen. But, if there is a favorite source of inspiration for filmmakers, it has always been literature. How many of the books you've read seem like scripts meant to be told visually?
Coinciding with the great festival of literature in Spanish, this April we have chosen some novels written in recent decades in which the place where the action takes place is another character in the plot and in the film.
This is the route that we propose to you to experience Spain through your favorite novels, then favorite series and movies and, finally, favorite vacations.
VIGO AND “THE BEACH OF THE DROWNED”
The first stop on this tour, in which we jump from literature to the screen, takes us to Galicia. One of the best Spanish writers of recent years, Domingo Villar, signs three books whose action takes place between Vigo and the province of Pontevedra: "Ojos de agua", "La playa de los ahogados" and "El último barco" introduces us to a unique couple of policemen due to the contrast of their ways of being and their ways of understanding life.
Gerardo Herrero chose the second of Caldas and Estévez's novels, “La playa de los ahogados”, to adapt it to the cinema in 2015. Carmelo Gómez was chosen to play the stoic Leo Caldas, while the character of the temperamental Rafael Estévez fell to Anthony Garrido.
In this case, as in the ones we will see below, there was no doubt that the only possible scenarios to shoot the story were the original ones reflected in the book
"The beach of the drowned" is in the municipality of Nigrán (Pontevedra) where it is known as A Madorra. This small corner, close to Vigo, offers a wonderful journey through the landscapes of the novel and the film. The route includes five stops at key points: the port of Panxón, La Madorra beach, the Votivo del Mar Temple, Punta Lameda, on the Monteferro peninsula, and the Universal Marina Monument. It is perfectly signposted and can be done in less than three hours.
The common thread of Villar's novels is, however, Vigo. The city of Olive, traditional and modern, vibrant and calm, reflects the evolution of Galician society in recent decades. For the reader, walking with Leo Caldas through Vigo is visiting corners, streets and bars that smell of the sea and good wine, leisurely enjoying those little everyday pleasures that life gives us
VITORIA AND “THE SILENCE OF THE WHITE CITY”
"The silence of the White City", "The rites of water" and "The lords of time" are the three novels in a trilogy written by Eva García Sáenz de Urturi, whose plot takes place mainly in Vitoria and the province of Álava. Police plot aside, in few novels a city has as much prominence as in these. From the Middle Ages to the 21st century, the writer gives us a portrait of Alava society through its way of life, its folklore and its history. A characteristic that the film adaptation of the first novel (Atresmedia, 2019) took into account when filming in the main locations of the capital of Alava
The Vitoria town hall proposes a route that will allow you to follow the investigations of Kraken (Inspector Ayala) on the hunt for ritualistic murderers. Urturi's books also take us to other emblematic places in the province of Álava. In the municipality of Lagrán is the town of the grandfather, Villaverde, refuge for Unai and his brother and a recurring place in the history of Kraken. The beautiful town of Laguardia, emblem of the Rioja Alavesa, is another obligatory stop to follow the adventures of the protagonists. The Aizkorri-Aratz massif, Deba and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (in Guipúzcoa) complete the tour of all the settings that appear in the White City trilogy and are the perfect way to get to know this part of Spain.
BARCELONA AND “THE CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA”
And if we are talking about literature adapted for the screen, we cannot fail to mention “La catedral del mar”, the first novel by Ildefonso Falcones. Based on its evocative title, it shows us what life was like in 14th century Spain. Cathedrals were being built in many cities at the time. All gothic and all magnificent. In the case of Barcelona, the city grew towards the coast. The, at that time, new and humble district of fishermen (La Ribera) decided to build, with their own money, the largest temple that had ever existed: Santa María del Mar.
Through the character of Arnau Estanyol and his family, Falcones takes us through a time that is quite unknown in general, but in which most of the great urban landmarks of the capital, which is now Barcelona, were built. As the story was one of those that asked to be brought to the screen, it did not take long for a series produced by Atresmedia, Diagonal TV, in collaboration with Televisió de Catalunya and available on Netflix. Predictable success: palace intrigues, medieval fights and impossible loves, combined with an exceptional setting, were a winning combination
Through the character of Arnau Estanyol and his family, Falcones takes us through a time that is quite unknown in general, but in which most of the great urban landmarks of the capital, which is now Barcelona, were built. As the story was one of those that asked to be brought to the screen, it did not take long for a series produced by Atresmedia, Diagonal TV, in collaboration with Televisió de Catalunya and available on Netflix. Predictable success: palace intrigues, medieval fights and impossible loves, combined with an exceptional setting, were a winning combination.
So, for your next getaway to Barcelona, here is the route of "The Cathedral of the Sea". In less than three hours you will know all the corners where the series was filmed and you will have visited the most beautiful enclaves in the center of Barcelona.
Not surprisingly, cities have changed quite a bit in 700 years. Or a lot. Hence, shooting an entire series in the same location is sometimes not possible. Fortunately, what is no longer possible in Barcelona is in other places. For this reason, this filming used no less than five other locations to recreate the Ciudad Condal of the 14th century.
Tarragona, Sos del Rey Católico (Zaragoza), Cáceres, Segovia and Toledo. All of them preserve magnificent medieval historic centers and in each one a building, a street or a beach was chosen that served to recreate the Barcelona of Arnau and his family
EXTREMADURA AND “THE INNOCENT SAINTS
If the route of the scenes of "La catedral del mar" has brought us to Cáceres, our next literary adaptation to the cinema takes us to Badajoz. In three of its most beautiful municipalities, Mérida, Zafra and Alburquerque, the Mario Camus film “Los santos inocentes” was filmed in 1984, based on the novel by Miguel Delibes. The Castilian writer had conceived the work with the intention of showing the ignorance and poverty to which the workers of the border estates with Portugal were subjected in the mid-20th century.
However, we are left with the Extremadura of today, vibrant, modern, beautiful. To prove it, we suggest a tour of these three jewels from Badajoz. The first, indisputably, is the current capital of Extremadura: Mérida. In addition to its incredible Roman archaeological complex, one of the most important preserved in Europe, it preserves the legacy of the Visigoths, Arabs, and reconquistadors.
In just over half an hour you will arrive from Mérida to Zafra, the second of the locations of "Los santos inocentes". Today this peaceful and charming town has witnessed many of the great events in the history of Spain, especially at the time of the reconquest. From those turbulent times it preserves a heritage that includes pre-Roman, Roman, Arab and medieval remains. As a good trade union city, it has always been a commercial focus, especially active during the time of the discovery of America.
Albuquerque (the original one, not the one in New Mexico where Breaking Bad was filmed), is the third of the locations of the novel and the film. Half an hour from Badajoz, this town is in the middle of the Sierra de San Pedro, a place of meadows and pastures (and of Iberian ham, of course).
Although the filming of the Camus film was practically centered on a farm located on the outskirts of Alburquerque, both the technical team and the actors stayed in Mérida and alternated between the three locations. Paco Rabal is especially remembered in the area for frequenting countrymen's bars, and sleeping in his, then, humble houses.
NAVARRE AND THE BAZTÁN TRILOGY
Closing this eminent list of famous novels adapted to the screen, is one of the most spectacular publishing phenomena in recent years in Spain. Just now ten years ago, an unknown writer named Dolores Redondo, published "The invisible guardian." She was introduced to society by the Homicide inspector of the Navarra Foral Police, Amaia Salazar. The rest, as they say, is history.
With hints of a Nordic crime novel, the plots (truculent but fascinating), the characters (charismatic and unique) and the disturbing landscapes of the Baztán valley (surrounded by folklore, mysticism and magic), together with Redondo's undeniable narrative mastery that maintains a constant tension until the last page, make this series of novels set in a small rural environment, have become a sales phenomenon.
The book series was completed with "Legacy in the Bones" and "Offering to the Storm." Its adaptation to the cinema was inevitable and it was almost immediate. The films (one for each book) were shot in the original locations where Dolores Redondo set her plots, such as the town of Elizondo, her main setting. Once again, another perfect example of a film location that becomes the protagonist of stories that could not be told elsewhere without losing their essence.
The action of the Baztán trilogy takes place between the Navarrese capital, Pamplona, and, obviously, the Baztán valley that gives the saga its title. Depending on the moment in history, the action pivots from one point to another of these attractive tourist destinations, allowing us to see places of extraordinary beauty.
In this video, Dolores Redondo herself shows us her favorite places. It can serve as inspiration to prepare the trip to this beautiful region.
So far our particular selection of books brought to the screen in Spain. Soon, we will be able to add two other great best sellers: “Red Queen”, by Juan Gómez Jurado, which has already finished filming in Madrid, and “Memento mori”, by César Pérez Gellida, shot in Valladolid. Which one will you choose for your next getaway?