31 October 2000 | gga
A very good adaptation
"Cronica de una Muerte Anunciada" (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) is based on the novel of the same name by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Garcia Marquez, together with Jorge Luis Borges, is the most recognized name in Latin American literature and one of the exponents of what is usually called magic realism. If you are an American reader and are familiar with the works of Isabel Allende, you should definitively read Garcia Marquez, who is her original inspiration. Most of his stories occur in a fictional world that resembles provincial Colombia at a time right where the traditional values of Spanish colonialism are slowly beginning to clash with the new laws and customs of modern society.
Garcia Marquez writing is dense and, as a good story teller of old, he slowly gives us pieces of the plot, while vividly describing the surroundings and, most importantly, his characters' state of mind. Nowhere is this more true than in this novella, which, as the title implies, will retell the story of one single death.
This film adaptation is one of those rare cases where the spirit of the book has been kept intact, and, in my opinion, by changing the order of two incidents in the conclusion, the film has even improved upon the book. This is a compliment not only to Garcia Marquez but to the talent of Tonino Guerra, one of Fellini's long standing collaborators. Right away we are told that Santiago Nasar has been murdered and we already know who the killers are. What we are not completely sure is how and why. And what is not understood is how it was possible for this to happen in the center of the plaza, in front of the whole town.
These are the mysteries that propels the narration. And, just as with 'Citizen Kane' or 'Rashomon', we listen to the different testimonies of the witnesses to the incident -- each one holding just a small piece of the truth.
The non-linear story and slow peeling of layers of truth will confuse and maybe bore some viewers, but those paying attention will enjoy one of the most satisfying films in a long time.
While many of the actors will seem unknown to American audiences, this film has a stellar cast of international European stars, and is a display of the talent of the veterans Irene Papas and Gian Maria Volonte. But where the casting shines is also in that of the main protagonists of the drama: Ornella Muti, as the beautiful and mysterious Angela Vicario who motivates the drama, Anthony Delon (son of the great Alain Delon) as the man she falls for and the yet unknown Rupert Everett.
This period piece is recreated authentically, in both the costumes and the surroundings.