Hail the conquering villain
Even the Rain; drama; not rated, in Spanish, Quechua, and English with subtitles; The Screen; 3 chiles
IMovies about the making of movies tend to coil back upon themselves. In Icíar Bollaín’s powerful, provocative movie about a Spanish film company on location in South America to shoot a story about Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, life imitates art imitating life and then some.
The company is making a revisionist historical drama about Columbus’ exploitation and enslavement of the native population of Hispaniola. But the film’s producer, aptly named Costa (Luis Tosar), has his eye on the budget and has opted to shoot in Bolivia, where extras can be had (exploited) dirt cheap. So what if the Indians of the Bolivian highlands don’t look anything like the Indians of the Caribbean, and there’s no coastline? Who’s going to notice?
The film’s director, Sebastián (Gael Garcia Bernal), for one. Reluctantly he goes along. But when he and Costa arrive at the casting call for extras and find hundreds more than they need snaking back in a line that stretches beyond their view, he balks at Costa’s edict to take the first ones and send the rest away. One of the applicants in the line, a small, sharp-faced Indian named Daniel ( Juan Carlos Aduviri) who has traveled a long way with his daughter in response to the company’s handbill calling for extras, refuses to budge. Against Costa’s warning that “he’ll be trouble,” Sebastián is intrigued by Daniel and casts him in the leading role of Hatuey, the Taíno chief from Hispaniola who led a revolt against the Spaniards in 1511.
Juan Carlos Aduviri