The Tourist Trap

In my travels I’ve occasionally taken arranged tours to a well-known tourist attraction, either because I was part of a group or as a matter of convenience or expediency. One of the benefits of this is having easy access to the site, rather than having to figure out public transport or deal with other inconveniences. But there are downsides as well.

One of these are the side trips to the “other” attraction, the stop for lunch at a certain restaurant, or a little shop where they sell handcrafted indigenous crafts – which are just as often tasteless food and tacky souvenirs as not. Along the way you feel played, that this is all part of the take; your tour guide takes your fee for the tour and takes the kickback for steering you to the restaurant, to the shop.

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Xochimilco, Mexico City

Xochimilco, Mexico City by Petirrojo
Xochimilco, Mexico City, a photo by Petirrojo on Flickr.

I took this photo with a cheap film camera almost 10 years ago but the image remains one of my favorite ones of all my shots from my various trips to Mexico.

I love the resourcefulness of the woman, taking to the waters of Xochimilco with her custom mobil food stand. Today’s food trucks have nothing on her!

Telenovelas

Zurita and the LadiesOnstage, Mauricio IslasOnstage, Mauricio IslasBackstage with Mauricio IslasOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico City
On the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityOn the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico City
On the set of "Ladrón de corazones," Mexico CityEn FamiliaDinner SceneBlocking RehearsalThe cast of "Una Cena con una Idiota"Tony Pony
Focusing the camerasRene Strickler does the MamboYou sure it goes like this?Gloria and Rene Strickler on the dance floorMentiraholics visit the set of "DKDA"Line prep...

Telenovelas, a set on Flickr.

Telenovelas are one of the world’s most popular forms of television programming. Produced in many Spanish-speaking countries and exported around the world, they offer hours of entertainment.

These photos represent a few of the delightful times that I and a few of my good friends have passed with some of the genre’s actors, watching them work on sets, back stage, in the theater, and on locations.

Montecristo vs Montecristo vs Montecristo

Currently, the Argentine network Telefe is rebroadcasting on its satellite channel one of its most popular recent telenovelas, “Montecristo,” a modern take on the classic Dumas tale. [Note: This version is now available on Dramafever.]

As it aired in 2006, the producers sold the script to several other network producers, from Mexico and Chile. In fact, the resulting productions are close carbon copies of more than the script: the staging, set decor, even soundtrack, are inspired by the original. The version produced in Mexico by TV Azteca was a highly successful retelling of the story – I had the opportunity to see it first and was impressed by many of the production details, particularly as fully realized, rich storytelling has suffered lately in the telenovela industry. With the airing of the original, I can compare the two productions and both clearly have made their mark.

The scene below is one example of the intense connection between the protagonists Laura (played by Paola Krum) and Santiago (played by Pablo Echarri). Their characters have been separated for over ten years, she has believed him dead, and they meet face-to-face for the first time. He runs (for reasons to complex to detail here) and she follows.

The Chilean version, from what I’ve seen, suffers in comparison. Here Laura is played by Ingrid Isensee and Santiago by Gonzalo Valenzuela.

But the Mexican version, starring Silvia Navarro and Diego Olivera offers a very satisfying comparison: whereas Paola and Pablo created a more fragile, wounded pair finding their way back to each other, Silvia and Diego are fiercer, more engaged in the battle of righting wrongs. Both productions pack a lot of emotional impact. Here’s a direct comparison of the Telefe scene.

The best part of the different interpretations is that, while the stories are almost identical on so many levels, the distinctive interpretations of the actors allows both productions to feel fresh. This is an instance where a remake successfully competes with the original.