Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Directed by Agustín Díaz Yanes and based on the novels by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the film follows the exploits of Diego Alatriste, a Spanish solider, over the course of many years in the 17th century, at the tail end of Spain's golden era. Alatriste fights in many wars and serves as a soldier-of-fortune in between. Along the way he takes the son of a fallen compatriot as his page.

The movie featured some fine acting including Viggo Mortensen playing the world-weary Alatriste. The direction, composition, and lighting of several scenes were very artistic, bringing to mind paintings of the era, such as the scene where the morning light streams through the window to awaken a sleeping Alatriste on the floor.

Alatriste is epic in scope, but suffers a bit for it. It would seem to crowd a lot of material from multiple novels, and as a result, there are many plot lines that are introduced that are never resolved or that have to compete for screen time amongst the relationships between Alatriste and his page, their women, the wars they fight, and the jobs they undertake, never mind the Byzantine politics of the Spanish court and the Inquisition.

I would probably have enjoyed the movie more had it only focused on a few of these stories. Still, fans of Mortensen will appreciate him in this role that has some of the physicality of Aragon from Lord of the Rings as well as some of the inner moral turmoil of Tom from A History of Violence.

There was no Q&A, but apparently there will be one following the second showing of the film. The director and some of the cast showed up, including Mortensen. After the screening, there was much applause for the cast, and Mortensen also waded into the audience to hug David Cronenberg, Mortensen's director from A History of Violence, who had attended the screening in support of his friend.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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