Sunday, August 15, 2021

The White Slave--an introduction to the Colombian novela

An older Italian neighbor was according to her son addicted to Colombian novelas.  When the Russians found themselves with unexpected open television time after the breakup of the Soviet Union they filled it in part with the Colombian novela.  Not sure if "La Esclava Blanca" (White Slave) qualifies as a Colombian novela, but it sure is addicting and is spread over 62 episodes of 40+ minutes each.  Available on Netflix.

There is a complicated plot with moving parts   Here follows a crude summary.  A house is burned down and two people (husband and wife) are killed.  The killer has been commanded to kill a baby, Victoria but can't quite bring himself to do it.  Black slaves escape and the caretaker of the baby takes her with the group.  A few years later the whites surround the camp and re capture the escaped black slaves while the young white girl escapes.  The local priest is able to send her to a nunnery in Spain.  While there she forms the idea to avenge her parents and get back with her sweet heart, Miguel.  In the meantime the man who commanded the deaths of the owners takes over the estate.  Victoria is able to disrupt a planned marriage between the owner and a noble women and substitute herself.  Tons of complications and other characters.  There are romances and murders and treachery.  Lots of summaries are similar, but I would say this has some uniqueness that might be worth your while.  Unlike the Korean series that I love this one has more violence and more sex.

Slavery was in a transition at this time in what was known as Granada.   It was illegal to bring in new slaves from Africa.  Slave rebellions from both indigenous and Africans happened.  A few slaves won their freedom.  Negotiations started before 1839 with apparently a few districts were able to abolish slavery within their district.  In 1851 slavery was officially abolished, more than a decade ahead of Americans.

I am confident this was popular beyond Colombia, but there is not a lot of information.

Very struck by the acting which is probably a reflection on the directing with characters coming and going and sometimes re-appearing.  

Director Liliana Bocanegra has been directing tv. series since 2010.  Along with Mateo Stivelberg was nominated for best director for this series at the Seoul International Drama Awards

Eduardo Galbo conceived the original idea and wrote some episodes.  He has also been a prominent producer of tv. series.  There was obviously a crew of talented and experienced writers.  Andres Burgos  and was nominated for script writing award with the Seoul International Drama Award.

The music composer was Alejandro Ramirez-Rojas who has been writing for films since 2006 and has won some national awards.

Miguel de Miguel plays Nicolas the unscrupulous, murderous landlord and the viewer will detest him, but he is a very smooth operator.  Born in Spain, Miguel has appeared in mainly tv. series in Spain.

Norma Martinez played Adela Nicolas's mother, a schemer, self righteous and capable of cruelty.   Her first film in 1988 was from Cuba, but most of her career has been spent in Peru.  "Proof of Life" (2000) and "Man on Fire" (2004) were two English films she had a part in.  She was at one time a professional wrestler. 

Nerea Camacho played the white girl, Victoria who survived her parents being murdered due to escaped slaves, was sent secretly to Spain and years later masqueraded as a noble lady who married Nicolas as        part of plan for revenge.  She retained her love for a childhood sweetheart who is a slave and it turns out the illegitimate son of Nicolas.   Nerea has appeared in Mexican series, but mostly in Spain   About 20 years old when this was filmed, but seems very mature in the role.

If you like soap operas with a little history, a little sex and some violence this is very addicting.  A very enjoyable film from Colombia for me was"Corazon de Leon," a romance comedy with Marlon Moreno and Maria Nella Sinistera which I would also recommend.

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