May 24, 2009


Doña Bárbara is over. This is a telenovela that brought many "hits" to a post I wrote in this blog, (particularly to its version in  English). This telenovela was very interesting to me for several reasons:
  1. It's the adaptation in long format(191 episodes) of a literary novel that doesn't have enough dramatic situations for such lenght. Hence, writer Valentina Párraga did magic in her immense effort to reign the storylines of her telenovela. 
  2. The telenovela was particularly successful in the U.S. market as it gathered loyal fans who followed every episode.
  3. It was the perfect telenovela to watch at the same time I was studying Venezuelan telenovela  La Vida Entera. Both provided fodder for constant comparisons among them, which were very productive for my research process. Both telenovelas included women in positions of power and authority in environments dominated and defined by men.  Both telenovelas developed well a number of secondary plots. 
  4. Doña Bárbara has high production values and is an excellent example of the "Telemundo model."  
I wrote in this blog about the difference between the "Doña" that lives in my mind and the one personifed by actor Edith González. This discrepancy was always present. Telemundo's Doña never had the face of Gallegos' guaricha. However, Edith González's performance had such nuances and strenght that I learned to see her Doña Bárbara as a different woman, not Rómulo Gallegos', but one that had a life of her own and a particular magnetism. Even though she was never "my" Doña, Edith's Bárbara made me reflect on the issues of women and power, the definition of the feminine, and the place that betrayal, revenge and sensuality occupy in every telenovela. Edith González managed to project correctly each of her Doña's vital relationships; both the negative ones (her rapists), and the positive ones (Marisela, Eustaquia, el Brujeador y Juan Primito). I believed all of them and all of her.

In Doña Bárbara I was reassured once again that one of the most productive dramatic situations is: mother and daughter in love with the same man. There's always much to tell since it's really three complicated love stories in parallel: Santos-Bárbara, Santos-Marisela and Bárbara-Marisela.

The final episode used all the tools of the genre to remind us why we care about these characters and their resolutions and why THAT is the resolution:  flashbacks, time ellipses, characters talking directly to the camera and special events, such as the wedding of  Pajarote and Genoveva.

The final image was the one I expected: a bongo, the river Arauca heading to the infinite, and the Doña and her beloved dead. It's a Doña redeemed by a new, more luminous, life, and by her ultimate sacrifice for her daughter's happiness. 

A fitting end for a telenovela.

1 comment:

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Don't miss Doña Bárbara's author, Valentina Párraga's letter where she reflects on the process of writing this telenovela. The post is in: