Fans from 5 continents have plans to travel to the city to attend the world premiere of the movie starring Viggo Mortensen
The old empire is at the centre of the attention
By Miguel Á. Nepomuceno
With only 10 days left until the world premiere of a Spanish movie produced with one of the biggest budgets in history and an all-star cast, León is preparing to receive an avalanche of fans from 5 continents who will arrive in the capital of the ancient empire with their sole goal being to obtain a ticket to the screening and, if at all possible, an autograph from the actor.
Thanks to websites like the prestigious North American Viggo-Works, or the Spanish Capitán-Alatriste, which is more centered around the character and novels created by Reverte, who have taken charge of spreading throughout 5 continents all the news from Spain that relates to the filming by Yanes, multitudes of fans of Peter Jackson's Aragorn have instantaneously become diehard fans of one who until that moment had been a relative unknown for many, Captain Alatriste.
This newspaper has reported on his numerous visits to the city, as well as the statements made by the actor and his affection for the valley of Curueño, where he decided to locate the hometown of Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, all of which have made the rounds of the world in seconds, demonstrating once more the great power these internet pages have for unification.
Likewise, the names of León and Curueño, as connected to the actor and the filming of the movie, can be read on more than 158,000 pages that Chinese, Russians, British, New Yorkers, Danes, Germans and multitudes of others post online each day for the enjoyment of all fans and followers of the most popular actor today.
Many world citizens have gotten to know León through these pages as, at the same time that Diario articles are translated into ever more diverse languages, some sites enhance the texts with the history, customs and idiosyncrasies of the Leonese people. Paradoxically, when at the highest levels there has been a push to obliterate Leonese culture, others with a power greater than that of mere words have proudly carried the flag around the world, without being Leonese themselves but feeling more the part than many of those of us who are actually citizens.
Gifts of the people
It's difficult to thank someone like Viggo Mortensen, who has given us so much in return for so little. But, even so, the Leonese people have turned themselves upside down asking us to forward him an enormous variety of presents: From products common to the city, to a house in Curueño where he has been named an adopted son, honorary membership in the Friends of the Cloak, requests for him to read and produce scripts about historic Leonese events, or that he teach a course for foreign students at the University of León on all the attractions of the city, everything from the point of view of the teaching of Spanish, to the history and language. And, of course, there was the flag given to him by the Pro-Leonese Identity Group, which he so proudly carried from Cadiz to New York including the Tercios of Flanders.
All this and let's also not forget the inclusion of a brief biography of him in the Encyclopedia of León, the invitations from festival organizers for Viggo to participate in Leon's famous Holy Week events, or the request for him to play the first move in the finals of León's Professional Chess Tournament between the two world champions, Anand and Topalov.
Even stranger is the gesture made by one of my editorial colleagues, who supervised the gestation, birth and training of a Leonese Mastiff because, as he told me, 'If the Queen of Spain has one, why shouldn't Viggo?' So he has the dog, waiting for the day when the actor might make space for it beside his horse TJ.
But perhaps the sweetest story of all is the one about an old Curueño lady who, hearing about the affection that Viggo had developed for her city, spent all night cooking some very special 'bollos' so that a messenger could deliver them to the actor with the following instruction, 'Take these to the Captain, who is very thin and has been wasting away since that battle with the French. I'm worried he might become anaemic.'
Viggo was given the bollos in Uclés, and shared them with the cast and crew of Alatriste. So even the Captain's own homeland was present, if only in the form of food, in the terrible Battle of Rocroi.
These are all small things but they serve to show the feelings of some individuals who have already adopted the Captain as one of their own because Viggo Mortensen has, in some manner, changed their lives.
Movie of the decade
Alatriste will be the Spanish film of the decade. Not only because of Diaz Yanes' wonderful script which faithfully reflects the essence of Perez-Reverte's novels, but also because of the painstakingly careful work done to depict an entire era that went down in history because of the ineptitude of its rulers.
Another trump card for Yanes' extraordinary film is the magnificent music of Roque Baños, which is exquisitely paired with powerful images to create a great historical fresco where the Tercios of Flanders, those feared and yet sadly defeated elite soldiers, have a musical theme that moves us with its desolate lyricism: we have only to hear it to be transported to the searing plains of Rocroi, covered in dust, bullets and blood.