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  • MacNessa5 December 2014
    I gave this 10/10 because I believe that it succeeded completely in its intent, which was presumably to faithfully recount, as dramatically as possible, the rise to power and reign of one of Europe's most important monarchs. At over 39 episodes and more than 2500 minutes in length it is of course hard to be perfect all the time and there are moments when the acting or the scenery is not at 100% what it normally is but that is a minor quibble. If there are a few dodgy displays of cheap CGI scenes then there are a 100 beautiful ones. If there are one or two actors who appear again in different roles, then do remember that this is a relatively small country(compared to the US) with a smaller budget but with an ambition no less than anything conceived in Hollywood.

    Two things stand out: The story with its countless subplots which appear at a dizzying rate (especially for the non Spanish speaker), and secondly the acting. Michelle Jenner as Isabel is a beautiful queen, but she does a fantastic job bringing to life the complex personality, so distant from our own time but which ultimately succeeds in turning a backwater kingdom in the middle of the Iberian peninsula into a world empire. Rodolfo Sanchez as Fernando/Ferdinand is also inspired, but for me the two most memorable performances were from two other duos, one at the start and one at the end :Carillo/Pacheco in the first series with their plots and counter plots are pure drama while Juana/Felipe in the third and final series is tragedy in its most bewildering form. Irene Escolar as Juana "la loca" is probably the best of all. You haven't seen intense if you haven't seen Escolar's Juana.

    One thing bugs me though: as a non Spaniard who fortunately understands Spanish, I am nevertheless sad that the DVD box set does not come with English subtitles. As a ruler Isabel is there, somewhere in the top 10 of great rulers/tyrants with Napoleon, Lincoln, Genghis, Caesar Augustus and Charlemagne and well ahead of the Tudors or the Borgia in terms of importance in world affairs. Lots of good things, and to be sure bad things: Inquisition, the Discovery of America, the granting of Human rights to the Indians(later ignored by the conquistadors who caused the death of millions) and the financial and legal reforms which laid the foundations of one the greatest empires in History and whose influence is still felt in that 500million speak Spanish today. With such an important person in history, surely someone in the Spanish state television would have the in-site to market this on a world wide basis.
  • This TV series recreates faithfully the historical facts about Isabel I of Castilla (Michelle Jenner) , Fernando II of Aragon (Rodolfo Sancho) and other characters as Cisneros (Eusebio Poncela) , Hernando Talavera (Lluís Soler) , Torquemada as well as essential happenings : Spain unification , America discovery by Colón (Julio Manrique) and Granada conquest . This is the environment in which occurs intrigues , emotions , feats , betrayal and spectacular battles . Many years separate us from the events are to narrate , but the shadows still hide from the public this great historic moment , and the significance of such deeds .¨Isabel¨ TV series is filled with those lights and shadows , gathers such very important known events recreated in the artistic frames , characterized and inspired by the ideas of a new world . The series contributes to historical , artistic and cultural memory of an era , with a look back to the past , offering us an interesting adaptation on important facts . This is an enough budget flick with a very good cast . Michelle Jenner gives a convincing character as sensitive and intelligent Isabel , she is marvelously photographed throughout and gives her big opportunity to really shine . And Rodolfo Sancho is pretty good as astute and womanizer Fernando II . The support cast is frankly good , plenty of familiar faces such as Jorge Bosch as Pope Alejandro VI , Fernando Gillen Cuervo as Fuensalida , Ramon Madaula as Chacon , Úrsula Corberó as Margarita de Austria , Francesc Garrido as Fonseca , Raúl Mérida as Felipe el Hermoso as special mention for Irene Escolar as Juana I De Castilla .

    This costumer movie is well based on real events , these are the followings : When her father , John II of Castile , died ; Isabel's half-brother ascended to the throne as Henry IV (Pablo Derqui). When the King's wife , Joan of Portugal (Barbara Lennie) , was about to give birth to their daughter Joanna La Beltraneja , Isabella and her brother Alfonso were summoned to Segovia court to come under the direct supervision of the King . The noblemen, anxious for power , confronted King Henry , demanding that his younger half brother Infante Alfonso be named his successor . The nobles , now in control of Alfonso and claiming that he was the true heir, clashed with Henry's forces in Olmedo ; however , Alfonso died early . Then , the nobles asked Isabella to take his place as champion of the rebellion . Isabella preferred a negotiated settlement to continuing the war . She met with Henry and, at Toros de Guisando, they reached a covenant : the war would stop , Henry would name Isabella his heir-presumptive instead of Joanna, and Isabella would not marry without Henry's consent but he would not be able to force her to marry against her will . Then , Diego Pacheco , the Marquis of Villena (Gines Garcia Millan) , and his followers maintained that Joanna , daughter of Henry IV, was the rightful queen . Shortly after the Marquis made his claim , a longtime supporter of Isabella , the Archbishop of Toledo left court to plot with his great-nephew the Marquis . The Archbishop and Marquis made plans to have the Infanta Joanna marry her uncle ; subsequently King Alfonso V (Daniel Albadalejo) of Portugal invades Castile to claim the throne for themselves . In May 1475, Alfonso and his army crossed into Spain and a long and bloody war for the Castilian succession then took place , such as : battle of Toro and the decisive naval Battle of Guinea . It ended with a Castilian victory on land and a Portuguese victory on the sea . The four separate peace treaties signed at Alcáçovas (1479) reflected that result : Portugal gave up the throne of Castile in favour of Isabella in exchange for a very favourable share of the Atlantic territories disputed with Castile . Later on , Isabella had married Ferdinad of Aragon in 1469 , as their marriage became the basis for the political unification of Spain under their grandson , Holy Roman Emperor Charles V . This meant that the two powerful kingdoms of Castile and Aragon would now stand united . This well-known monarchs governed in domains where the sun never set . Free from inter-Christian war which had helped Granada survive , the kings carried out its conquest . The Granada War was a series of military campaigns between 1482 and 1492 . The aftermath of the war saw the end of coexistence -"live and let live"- between religions In the Iberian peninsula : the Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or be exiled in 1492 , and later on , all of Granada's Muslims were obliged to either convert to Christianity , become slaves, or be exiled . After eight hundred years in which took place a great splendor , in Granada happens a rivalry between Abencerrajes y Zegríes , confrontation among Boabdil (Alex Martínez) , El Zagal (Javier Mora) , Mulay-Hacén (Roberto Enriquez) , her wife Haixa (Alicia Borrachero) , but the Arabs are besieged by the Christian armies . It is really important to highlight the huge significance that the Kingdom of Granada had back then , being conquered by the Catholic Kings , they ensured an united front of Castile and Aragon against this enclave . It ended with the defeat of Granada and its annexation by Castile, ending all Islamic rule on the Iberian peninsula -Al Andalus- , being commanded by Gonzalo Fernández De Cordoba (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) , conqueror of Nápoles and part of Italy in the important battles Ceriñola and Garillano ; battling Charles VIII (Carballo) and Louis XII (Borja Luna) troops . In January 2 , 1492 Muhammad XII -Boabdil- surrendered the Emirate of Granada to the Castilian forces .
  • This series is ambitious, almost to a fault, but in the end, utterly successful. To narrate so many plots and subplots is arguably necessary to lift these historical characters of almost mythological stature from the danger of appearing as cardboard figures. Instead, we see how the triumphs and tragedies of these momentous times emerge out of the dreams and sins of passionate people with very specific character strengths and flaws. Not a single character is a monochromatic figure, and this, in a series of this length, is extraordinary. What took place during the reign of Isabel changed the world forever in almost every respect. I am a Spanish-speaker, and I have seen the series "a la carte" online at the RTVE site. With the opportunity to binge on a quick succession of episodes, one sees at first certain repetitive patterns of courtly intrigue and manipulation, and occasionally predictable reactions from Isabel and King Fernando in particular. But, on the whole, "Isabel" allows us to reflect on the role of kings and queens, and the need to be decisive at the opportune time, taking the right advice from the right people. Terrible things happen, especially to the Jews and the Moors, for political expediency; and to women overall for the necessity of heirs and alliances; but the horror is not sentimentalized in any way. Also during the first two seasons, one wonders if while securing the kingdom, and after the loss of friends and the destruction of foes, these Catholic kings ever had a moment of transcendent self-awareness or even fleeting self-doubt. However, by the third season, as Isabel and Fernando face death and the destruction of everything they built, then the depth of self-awareness is fantastic and even heart-wrenching. It was perhaps an overall tactic of director Jordi Frades and his team to keep the action moving forward, only to crash in emotional upheavals at the end, for which we are prepared then to understand as spectators . The last few episodes depicting the relationship of Isabel and Fernando's daughter and heir Joanna the Mad with her parents and husband Philip the Fair is one of the most nuanced and vivid I have seen on TV. Other characterizations are poignant and memorable, especially Pablo Derqui as the weak king Enrique IV, Julio Manrique as an egotistical and visionary Columbus, Lluis Soler as the deep thinker Hernando de Talavera, and Irene Escolar as Joanna. It must also be said that this series is often superior to the more recent historical recreations of royal episodes from England, by avoiding easy titillation and vulgar emotion at every turn. More often that not, the complexity of characterization is perceived over time, in particular with the central characters of Isabel (Michelle Jenner) and Fernando (Rodolfo Sancho). This is one of those cases where getting to the end in one sweep offers many rewards unavailable from any other dramatic genre. I hope a version with supertitles (and perhaps even one with English dubbing for those who do not like to read the TV screen) will be made available for the US. To those for whom history holds an attraction, this series will spark voracious reading to know more about Spain, a country that we can now see determined a lot of what we still live today. I personally would finish each episode with a desire to seek more in history books and the internet. I hear that a new series may be in the works on the life of Isabel's grandson Charles V, who ruled over the largest empire of his time. I will be hard to surpass "Isabel", but I do hope this team tries a task like this again!
  • mplaza14 October 2014
    There was a time when European networks produced excellent TV series based on historical events, literary works or on the lives of relevant historical characters. Budgetary restrictions gradually did away with that type of programming and productions nearly halted. TVE themselves produced a few remarkable ones and so did the BBC and RAI, the latter before turning into the generally appalling network it now is. With this new series centred on the life of Queen Isabella of Spain and now well into its third and final season, TVE has more or less come back to what they so successfully did until a couple of decades back. Actors are of a good enough standard and the recreation of some of the Kingdoms that comprised the Iberian peninsula at the time is in general to a good standard. There is some abuse, in my view, of computer-generated images and sequences that are distractive and in a few instances questionable in their success but the series as a whole deserves wider distribution (PBS take note?). The Alhambra sequences in Seasons 2 and 3 are a delight to watch.
  • 1400s ... Spain has The Catholic Monarchy ruling all over the Reign. The Queen, Isabel, with its faithful attitude over the catholicism, gets rid of all enemies of the country, fighting against them An Excellent Spanish production, proudly made by all Spanish actors, trying to recall one of the most spectacular war times in our country We still waiting for the second season, actually expected for 2013 fall Looking forward to you enjoy this Spanish production as I did. There is still some circunstances that has no popped up yet, because of the remains of the time. Further more, we expect to all the history that has been playing, continues as the previous episodes has been doing.
  • Great series that spans 1474 to 1504 with flashbacks to earlier periods. I only have two minusses:

    1. Although mostly accurate too bad the series unnecessarily diverts from histiorical facts. Fact: on 13 December 1474 Isabella was proclaimed Queen of Castile and León. Because her brother had named Isabella as his successor, when she ascended to the throne in 1474, there were already several plots against her.
    • Then why does the series act like there is no formal successor?

    2. The series isn't available with subtitles other than Spanish/Castellano. Not sure if the makers ran out of cash so they couln't pay translators or that they were sure no-one in the non-hispanic world would be interested in this great piece of history. It's a shame and a great loss.