Movies for Gamers #2: Alatriste

This is part of a series of reviews of movies particularly interesting or inspiring for role playing. Because of their setting, style, characters, editing or story. Read the introduction here or here if you are new to this series.

El Capitan Alatriste is a Spanish mercenary in the seventeenth century. He isn't really a captain, but he does know how to fight. And because that's basically all he knows how to do well, he ends up in one battle after another. Mostly in the Netherlands.

Now if you're Dutch, like I am, Alatriste is a shocking different view of our “Eighty Year's War”, which you might know as the “Dutch Revolt” during the heyday of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). At school, we always were taught about the evil Spanish, and their torturing Inquisition. In Alatriste the Netherlands are a horrible breeding swamp of pirates and rebels who don't really fight fair. The Dutch are seen as the Nemesis of Imperial Spain. And if you thought trench warfare was an invention of the 20th century? Think again. Alatriste and his compadres move around in real trenches and even tunnels a lot. You can smell the gunpowder while watching.

Maybe you'll find that Alatriste is a bit long. But if you know that Alatriste is a regular Spanish hero from pulp fiction, like a cross breed between Don Quichotte and Batman, then maybe you can appreciate the episodic structure of the movie. Alatriste, a creation by Arturo Perez-Reverte, seems to be hugely popular in Spain. So the makers tried to put the history of all the books into one movie. As an hommage, I suppose.

Why did they choose Viggo Mortensen to play the lead role? Probably to attract an international audience. His Spanish is curt, but sounds true to me. And he's a believable captain, struggling to show his emotion, even as he finally dares to declare his love to a high level courtesane. I won't tell you the outcome. He's cute.

Go see the movie, and learn something about history along the way. You might even want to upgrade your fantasy campaign to the 17th century. I already did.

1 comment:

  1. So this is what motivated you to upgrade Nirdday's tech/ cultural level to 17th century approximate, eh? Well, "Alatriste" certainly gets its atmosphere right.

    Still I would rate the movie higher if it had offered any (recognizable) resolutions...