This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Using literary themes, motifs, and examples to explain why Corazón salvaje's latest remake did not work

Dr. A brought up an interesting topic of how pop culture will abuse and exhaust itself, namely through television remakes. I've seen the videos of Corazón salvaje (2009) online, and I, personally, was not sold enough to watch it outside of Youtube. The production value is significantly better than the originals, but that's only because everyone in television has better technology to work with. Scene cutting in Corazón salvaje (2009) is rough and erratic, but that's something that occurs in most telenovelas due to the time constraints and multi-camera model of their productions. What first bothers me is that the actors of the 2009 cast are sub-par compared to the actors, both protagonistic and antagonistic, of Corazón salvaje (1993) because the 1993 cast, quite frankly, kicked ass. That cast had a great deal of talent that is hard to find, namely Palomo, Gonzalez, and Colchero. Notably, the cast also included Enrique Lizalde who played Juan del Diablo in 1966 and Noel Mancera in 1993. The 2009 version has actors who portray their the relationships and dialogging with a somewhat forced and farce air at times, which is detrimental to the suspense of disbelief within any medium of drama. However, let's refer to the "classics" to explain the 2009 adaptation's failure in quality:

What irks me the most is the abuse of a large theme that has defined the Corazón salvajes throughout the years: scandal. Corazón salvaje is an epoch novela taking place during the turn of the 20th century when socioeconomic status still meant everything to the upper classes. For most during the this time period, status was fragile and could be easily lost; the effect of social scandals did not really diminish until the thirties, when everything kinda stunk for everyone (refer to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which takes place in the twenties). The scandals in the 1993 version revolve around the timeless Cinderella motif manifested in Juan del Diablo and the struggles of the Altamira family within itself and with the Alcazar y Valles. The Altamira scandals are akin to the ones observed in Edith Wharton novels, namely Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence - both novels of which elaborate intensely upon the drama of one affair. Key word: one.

Now read the synopsis of the 2009 version of Corazón salvaje. Notice something? The scandals repeat themselves amongst all the members of the family. The parents and children cannot seem to keep their hormones and genitals under control whereas before only Aimee, Juan, and Francisco Alcazar y Valle were adulterers. Juan, Monica (now named Regina), Andres (now named Renato), and Aimee are all more related to one another than being siblings and second cousins (I know they marry one another, but it was different times people) - they all seem to be children created out of lust or obligation, both situations of which are not nice circumstances to be born under. It's an interesting topic to evaluate, but not necessarily to observe over the course of 100+ episodes; its entertainment value would lose flavor after a while. Repeating their parents' mistakes just gets too old and boring to watch. You can't really have scandal when the whole world created is scandalous. Scandals disrupt society and its conventions; if all the cool, rich kids are doing it, then why is it still so shocking? Simply put, the 2009 version is too sexual to be tasteful, which is what society aims for now and always. Don't believe me? Let's compare - which of the following characters seem to have more "taste" as characteristic in the late 1800s/early 1900s?

Let's elaborate upon the feminine side of society more: another timeless dramatic tension of Corazón salvaje can also be found in Jane Austen's novels; this drama is the subtext and the silent feuds between sisters. Monica (now Regina) and Aimee are now twins - equal in age; however, there are less social stigmas behind the Altamira (now Montes de Oca) sisters being identical in both age and appearance in addition to being played by the same actress, Aracely Arámbula. Again, nice idea on paper but not so visually. Aimee marries Monica's former lover and their cousin, Andres, disregarding and leaving Monica to become an old maid. Unlike today, back then this would've been a huge *gasp* and "I'd never!" moment. Being an "old maid" back then was social suicide not only for the maid but also for her family. Classic old maids that act as proof of what could've happened to Monica Altamira are Mary Bennett (third of five daughters) in Pride and Prejudice and the the royal old maid Princess Concetta Corbera of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo, who ends her family's dynasty in Italy. If you were wondering, nothing good happened to these women. They died lonely and disliked. Monica's only option to save her family and herself is to evade social suicide by escape through religion; she becomes a celibate nun. Because of Aimee's insensibility and actions in the early plot, Monica marries Juan. All these choices are made behind closed doors in the night by the women. From what I observed, the silent tensions that build this immense drama are not very silent at all in the 2009 adaptation - Renato forces Regina and Juan to marry. Serene Monica feels a sense of duty to save her family; Regina is just bitter. The tensions lose power, and without this power, the 2009 version of Corazón salvaje lacks the squalors that we so loved in the originals.

One final note I would like to make: in the 2009 version, Juan del Diablo is the son of Juan de Dios. Clever.

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