By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on May 03, 2016
Gabriel García Márquez or Gabo as he is fondly referred to needs no introduction. For his work has transcended nations, cultures, generations and continues to resonate even after his demise. He was a creative genius who wore several hats including that of a novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and a journalist.
Gabo wrote several acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, including the much acclaimed One Hundred Years Of Solitude (1967), The Autumn Of The Patriarch (1975) and Love In The Time of Cholera (1985). In 1982, Gabo became the first Colombian and fourth Latin American to win a Nobel Prize for literature. Post his demise in April 2014, Juan Manuel Santos, the then President of Colombia, described him as "the greatest Colombian who ever lived”.
“To make a documentary on Gabo involved great sensitivity and respect. It was an enormous challenge because his life was almost as incredible as his literature. And of course, the hardest thing was to produce something worthy of his stature.” says Webster in an interview to the Spanish publishing house Semana.
Watching this 90 min long documentary gives us glimpse into the life of the most feted writers of all times.
The documentary shows witty anecdotes and testimonies by Marquez's friends, colleagues and politicians. Gabo’s roots were integral to his work and the documentary starts with his early life in Aracataca, Colombia. Throughout his life, Márquez maintained a strong sense of his roots, dressing in colorful clothes and maintaining the customs of his region.
His childhood was marked by the magical stories fed to him by his superstitious grandmother and tales of afterlife from his grandfather who was obsessed with death. These two themes would also strongly influence Marquez's novels. The documentary takes us to the buildings where Gabo lived and continually deferred the rent as he was broke.
The film is a brilliant interplay of Márquez’s personal and professional lives. The narrative chronicles his journey from a small town boy to a writer who won the hearts of millions. The documentary also shows Gabo’s strong engagement in journalism and left-wing politics, besides dispelling the myth of him being a staunch Communist.
By showing little known footage of Gabo’s holidays to Cuba, it also explores his friendship with Fidel Castro. Yet it also shows how his journeys were motivated by his personal equation with Castro rather than his desire to export communist ideology to Latin America.
One of the lesser-known facts the documentary tells us about is the role Márquez played as an emissary for Castro during the US-Cuban embargo. The film also shows Márquez meeting former U.S president Bill Clinton for reaching an agreement on lifting of the embargo. Clinton incidentally was also a fan and a long time admirer of Gabo's works.
The documentary keeps you engrossed not only with its narrative but also through its visual aesthetics. The camera moves judiciously through the lanes where Gabo lived as a child and highlights the very essence of his childhood. It also shows how he found a lifetime of inspiration in the superstitions, poverty, violence around and created his world of magic realism.
In a nutshell, the documentary is an earnest exploration of Márquez's life that prompts us to revisit his work and understand what made him such a multifaceted phenomenon.