Entertainment“La Fortuna”: revelations of the miniseries about the underwater...

“La Fortuna”: revelations of the miniseries about the underwater treasure with gold and silver coins minted in Peru

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In October 1804, off the Cape of Santa María, on the Iberian Peninsula, a British fleet sank the Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which was crossing the Atlantic from the port of Montevideo to Cádiz.

Two hundred years later, specifically in May 2007, the American company Odyssey Marine Exploration announced the discovery of the wreck of the aforementioned vessel, at a depth of 1,138 meters. He had a shipment of 595,000 coins and other items, totaling 17 tons of gold and silver. It was the greatest underwater treasure in history.

After learning of the case, the Spanish government initiated a lawsuit for plunder against the US firm. According to the authorities, the treasure found in the remains of the ship Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes was Spanish heritage. Thus began a tense and long litigation that connected pirates of the 19th century with their more modern versions of the 21st. A mixture of legal dispute, war conflict and adventure novel.

That story was taken to the comic “The treasure of the Black Swan”, by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral, in 2018, and has now been adapted into a miniseries format by the Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar with the title “La Fortuna”, produced by Movistar+. This is the first work for television by the director of films such as “Thesis” (1996), “Mar Inside” (2004), “Agora” (2009), among other award-winning productions.

Regarding the premiere of “La Fortuna” in Latin America, we spoke via Zoom with Amenábar. And the first question we ask him is one barely mentioned in the miniseries: the role that Peru played in the case of the treasure found by Odyssey, by claiming ownership of its contents given that most of the gold and silver coins on the ship were minted in our country.

“When we decided to adapt the comic we had to choose whether to stick to the real case or detach from it. And we chose to take off. That’s why what you see there is something very playful, somehow light. That is what I wanted to explore”, says Amenábar about the reasons for not addressing the Peruvian claim in depth. However, the Spanish filmmaker admits that the history of the disputed treasure has several edges.

“The series talks about several empires,” he warns. An empire that was, like the Spanish. An empire that is, although today it shows some decline, like that of the United States. And it also explores the figure of the pirate. So, if we follow the chain of possession of the treasure, we can see that the Spanish empire was also a pirate. What happens is that in the series we didn’t get to that last question.”

The Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar ("Thesis", "The Sea Inside", "Ágora") directs the miniseries "La Fortuna", his first foray into the television format.  (Photo: AFP)

“La Fortuna” also observes in its own way that succession of conflicts –England against Spain at the beginning of the 19th century, or Spain against the United States in the 21st century litigation– that are renewed over time. Is it less likely today that a major war will break out? in the world if we compare the situation 100 or 200 years ago? Amenábar is not so optimistic about it.

“Something that I have been suspecting for some time is that cycles repeat themselves, and wars repeat themselves. You can change names, you can change causes, but in the end the same characters are there: wolves that lead the herd into a bloodbath. So I do see with some alarmism that a war could break out. I believe that we forget how easy it is to fall into a conflict”says the director.

A belligerent mood that is not only experienced at a supranational level, but also seems to affect today’s world on a personal level: a polarized society, with frayed nerves, launching insults and threats through social networks, in what seems an irreconcilable scenario.

And that is precisely why Amenábar chose two ideologically dissimilar characters as the leading duo of “La Fortuna”: Álex Ventura (Álvaro Mel), a young diplomat with conservative airs, and Lucía Vallarta (Ana Polvorosa), a progressive and combative official. Opposition of political positions who, however, manage to get along in pursuit of a common goal such as the rescue of the treasure for Spain.

“That link between two people who think differently is something that I claim –explains the filmmaker–. What happens is that sometimes it is the obstinacy of politicians that confronts us. I myself think I have suffered it when going out into the street and feeling the hostility of certain people. People in the cinema see us as the red ones, the subsidized ones. And politicians do not help to calm things down. But personally I defend the fact of understanding myself with the different. Life would be very boring if everyone thought like you. The grace is in discussing, in exchanging, that enriches you. And in the series I want to understand all the characters, in particular those two characters who are so ideologically opposed”.

"The Treasure of the Black Swan" (2018), a comic by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral that is adapted by Alejandro Amenábar in "La Fortuna".

Regardless of these substantive issues, “La Fortuna” is formally and stylistically an attractive and engaging series, which balances the office adventure with the epic, the pirate story with the judicial investigation. There are references to Emilio Salgari and Tintin, to Indiana Jones and Jacques Cousteau. But especially Steven Spielberg movies, as recognized by Amenábar himself.

“In my case the references are fundamentally cinematographic,” he says. Once I decided to adapt this story, I started moving in a very classic spirit. i tried rescue the series and movies of the 80s, those that I liked as a child. And I hope that has come to fruition.”

  • “La Fortuna” stars Álvaro Mel, Ana Polvorosa, Clarke Peters and Stanley Tucci.
  • The six-episode miniseries premieres tomorrow, January 16, on the AMC signal (on Claro TV and DirecTV).

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