Hugo Chavez Rules Again, this time on TV
Just like "El Cid," Hugo Chavez may be deceased but now he rules Venezuela again, this time on television as the leading character of the series "El Comandante" (The Commander), created by one of his harshest critics, journalist Moises Naim. The show debuts on the small screen this Monday.
"To those who wish me dead, I wish them long life, so they can see how the Bolivarian Revolution will progress from battle to battle, from victory to victory," Chavez once said, showing that his theatrics, expressions, political strategy and sharp tongue had everything it takes to be a TV character.
Once again his well-known phrases - "Come here, Mr. Danger," "It smells like sulphur here" - will resonate, but this time in the voice of Colombian actor Andres Parra, previously known for his role as drug lord Pablo Escobar in "El Patron del Mal."
To those who wish me dead, I wish them long life
It remains to be seen if he can equal Chavez's charisma, though for Felipe Cano, co-director of the series produced by Sony Pictures, Parra was able to get into the skin of Venezuela's former president thanks to "a method he created for himself to try to construct a character that is already constructed."
From the moment "El Comandante" went into production, there were a lot of aspects to deal with, "both positive and negative," Cano told EFE, "but we're not trying to change anyone's opinion of the man."
Nonetheless, criticism has been quick in coming from Chavez's successor, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who said "a multinational is out to disfigure our commander."
For his part, Naim acknowledged this Friday, when taking part as moderator in the discussion "What Was Hugo Chavez Like?" with ex-Presidents Cesar Gaviria (Colombia), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica) and Felipe Calderon (Mexico) at the Hay Festival of Cartagena, that even before its premiere, "El Comandante" has stirred up controversy.
A multinational is out to disfigure our commander
Referring to Chavez's ideology, Naim said he was "firmly opposed to what he called the oligarchy and the empire of the north."
"There was always a great propensity to take a stand against the powerful who have oppressed the poor, that was always part of his strategy," he said.
Despite the complexity of such a project, Cano had no doubt about taking it on, together with his Venezuelan colleague Henry Rivero, and "going ahead with it."
The series will have 60 episodes of 1 hour each, all filmed in Colombia between the cities of Yopal and Villavicencio, in a collective effort of the team that led its creators to employ digital effects in 412 shots of the first episode alone.
The entire team sought to reproduce on the screen the undeniable magnetism of Chavez, who, Cano recalled, was "able to keep viewers watching for all six hours of a live broadcast." EFE