20 June 2010 | CihanVercan
Two-sided Characters, Excellent directing of Photography, Continuous moments of Romance and Suspense. World is not turning fast enough!
6 years and 5 seasons of continuing show-time. Show me one more TV-series or soap opera that still keeps its first-day filming freshness and enthusiasm in the 5th season film-set. For the process of production, filming, acting, week-to-week basis on-air rating; Manuela is among the all-time best soap operas. Don't even consider Manuela as a soap opera though, since soap operas never ever got prime-time viewing at the season final episodes like Manuela did. Manuela was the only soap opera of my life-time that I watched from beginning till the end holding a breath. For one thing, Manuela never repeated itself and its plot never got boring nor suspenseless in 5 seasons.
The success of the production comes from its writing as a team of 8 writers. Back stories, former and newcomer character intros, puzzles for the viewer, solving timing of these puzzles, creating another suspense after each puzzle is solved, during every suspense moment we get to know closer each character learning another of their secret; everything is perfectly organized for a typical one-hour TV-show.
But this is not fair, what's a production without a director? Manuela is directed by Rodolfo Hoppe(also one of the producers) and Carlos Escalada, who during filming know of the fact that this film was an important milestone for everyone in the crew. It's obvious for me now as a critic to savvy who was the director of the talent and who was the director of the technical crew. Usually TV-drama directors try not to use any action to fulfill the necessity of a completeness. Manuela clears this hassle pioneeringly. You can see a punch, a fight, a fall or an accident, or attempt to suicide or kill; in just any time that you never expect to see during the telling of a drama piece. On the other hand romance moments were never ever broken into pieces or cut in the half. Remember that Manuela has the long lasting TV-screening of a kiss, while the longest kisses from sleeper soap operas are 2 to 3 seconds. Fernando and Isabel walk on the Santa Monica beach holding hands, leaving footprints on the wet sand, waves come and sweep away their footprints, while Fernando tries to entertain Isabel more, Isabel keeps worrying about her skirt getting wet of the waves of the ocean. It's a quite long scene with a background music on, offers the viewer great character intros, even for the new viewer who just seeing the series for the first time. If anybody who never watched a single episode wants to choose a randomly episode to see; he/she would still be delighted. I believe even this one little example was part of the things they all wanted to achieve. Also, great directing of photography for the scenes those were necessarily taken exteriorly.
Still it's not fair, what's directing without actors? There were a number of formulas to coordinate and match the events, witnesses, antagonists and protagonists. It's not either a newly invented formula, or a general pattern of formula reversal. It's something more than that it's creating a formula of complete mixture. If you consider Isabel and Manuela as two characters, one is protagonist, the other is antagonist; it's never like that. Manuela is not always the protagonist and neither Isabel is. The audience kept Isabel's side, until she wore her witch mask and turned against Manuela, then after Manuela betrayed Fernando with Rudy, the protagonist became Isabel again; since she never had betrayed Fernando with another man even though it's because of her pride. Take Bernarda as an example, she was an antagonist until the back story is told; that's when all the hearts are broken into halves, Bernarda became as innocent as Mother Mary, while her first love, now Mercedes's husband Corrado revealed as a new antagonist. Normally, even with theater-backgrounded actors, your story will fail, if you attempt to change the antagonists and protagonists with each other; but only with that much perfect cast, Manuela could've gained more and more story depth, by means of these dedicated talent crew.
Yet even this is not fair, what's a footage without editors? I never thought of the editing concept of Manuela before until I see the small parts cut into minute-length clips in Youtube, hundreds of them, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, so on. Editors created unforgettable moments with music, sounds, mixes, and scene cuts. There was a classic pattern which I love most, like a hypnotist, either in Alps or in Santa Monica Beach, or in Rome, in Florence, on a bridge... They kept some moments continuing uncut. Manuela steps off the taxi, walks towards the river bridge, Fernando sees her, starts watching her quietly, she steps closer and closer to him, Fernando all of a sudden catches her in the mid-air while she was just about to jump into his arms, Fernando twists her around himself in the air, 4 or 5 laps her feet off ground, when she's landed in the ground safely, she's given a red rose in her hand, but not as red as her blissful smile. World is not turning fast enough for them. They had a great chemistry.
I felt like being the luckiest 10-year old with a blonde girl-friend(also 10-year old) after seeing those unforgettable Manuela episodes full of inspiration. She was proud too, but I never thought of being pride contains fooling somebody around in its meaning. You all know, some like it hot and gentlemen prefer blondes. It's more than a hair color. Grecia Colmenares is not a natural blonde, but she had the heart and sex appeal for being one.