Feb 21, 2010


Every time I'm asked which is my favorite telenovela of all times, I answer La Dueña (Venezuela, 1984). This novela was written by José Ignacio Cabrujas and Julio César Mármol. The protagonists were Amanda Gutiérrez and Daniel Alvarado.

The telenovela is written as a homage to The Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumás. Moreover, La Dueña is The Count of Montecristo, but told in the Venezuela historical period known as gomecista and post-gomecista, and with a female protagonist, who's thrown into a horrid psychiatric ward. She escapes ten years later and deploys her vengeance.

Recently I watched La Dueña again. It was a fascinating exercise since in 1984 I had no plans to study a Ph.D. in mass communication, nor did I imagine that one day telenovelas would be my object of study.

Following my academic discipline, I started watching the telenovela with a series of questions in mind:
  • After a decade studying telenovelas, would I like La Dueña as much as I did in 1984?
  • What weaknesses and strengths would I notice in the telenovela?
  • How different is La Dueña from today's telenovelas?
La Dueña hooked me again. And, in doing so, it reaffirmed what elements are present in the telenovelas I like:
  • Careful character construction
  • Intelligent dialogue
  • Acting talent
  • Coherence in the storyline
La Dueña is a telenovela with a high level of writing and low levels of production, even for 1984. There are very few exterior locations and a limited number of sets. The quality of the wardrobe is exceptional, though. It reflects the historical period depicted in the telenovela and effectively contributes to each character's individuality.

Even though drama is paramount in La Dueña, humor is present throughout in small doses that make the story lighter and easier to digest. Dialogue in La Dueña uses correctly the historical references of the time period. They are typical dialogue written by Cabrujas: rhythmic, poetic and profound. But, most of all, the words are coherent with the character that pronounces them. These dialogues are long and are set in long scenes; way too long if we compare them to current telenovela standards. When you watch La Dueña, you are at a different pace. Things are happening all the time, but the length of the scenes is double or triple the ones we watch today.

The cast of La Dueña merits special mention. It's quite a luxury to watch this cast. With one or two exceptions, everyone did an extraordinary job with their characters.

-Amanda Guiérrez is magnificent as she develops the double character of Adriana/Ximena, using two tones of voice, two gaits, two attitudes towards life. And, she adds to Ximena the detail of the useless hand, the only mark she has from her days in the horrible ward.

-Daniel Alvarado wasn't the typical telenovela protagonist, but that didn't matter at all. We detest his Mauricio Lofiego when he is arrogant and blindly machista. And we love him when we see him in love and humbled by his mistakes.

Here is episode 19. Go to 46:30 for a scene with the protagonists:

It would be too long to write about every actor in the cast. They are too many and too talented. (By the way, it's quite interesting to see how many characters and storylines La Dueña has, when there are those who currently criticize some Venezuelan telenovelas for having "too many characters" and simultaneously declare themselves admirers of Cabrujas and Mármol).

I will mention only four of those outstanding actors:

-María Cristina Lozada is Purificación Burgos, the great villain of the story. Purificación is a character with no fissures, in the acting or the script. Cabrujas and Mármol served her to María Cristina Lozada who made her grow in front of our eyes, until Purificación became unforgettable for Venezuelans. From an acting perspective, it was a detailed job.

Here is episode 45. Find minute 15 for a scene between Purificación Burgos and her second son, Abelardo:

-Eduardo Gadea Pérez is Manuel Antonio Lofiego. This character is a catalog of some of the most enchanting and troublesome characteristics of the average Venezuelan. Manuel Antonio is charismatic, verbose, a drinker and improvised. His scenes have the right amount of humor amidst the drama that is La Dueña.

Here is episode 78 with a pair of scenes of Manuel Antonio Lofiego. Go first to minute 17 and then to minute 31:

-Carlota Sosa is María Consuelo Tellez, a woman whose intelligence and personality don't fit well with the rigidness of the time period in which she lived. There is a lot of truth in Carlota Sosa's performance. Back in 1984, it was the first time I saw this talented actress on TV.

Here's again episode 78. Go to minute 8 for the final scene of María Consuelo and Adriana Then go to minute 32 for her final scene with Mauricio:

-Fina Rojas is Elvira, the woman who raised the protagonist, Adriana. Until I saw her in La Dueña, Fina Rojas was a comic actress who worked weekly in the humorous show Radio Rochela. Elvira is a character that is 100% drama, and Fina Rojas executed it brilliantly.

Here's again episode 45. Go to minute 36 for a long scence between Elvira and the male protagonist, Mauricio:

La Dueña is a great example that the key elements in a good telenovela are the writing and the acting. This telenovela is also a reminder that betrayal and vengeance are classic elements in these melodramas, and gives us clues as to why the principle of crime and punishment is one of the genre's most enduring codes.


Anonymous said...

hola x favor podrian repetir la novela valeria y maximiliano xfis gracias

Anonymous said...

Hola, sera posible conseguir todos los capitulos otra vez? como fueron removidos de megaupload...

Eccentricjr said...

Tuve elplacer d ehaber visto esta telenovela cuando el canal TLNovelas la repitio! Una belleza de dialogos, un elenco de puro lujo! Una de las mejores telenovelas que he visto, y eso que han sido muchas! Estoy loco por obtener un script de esta telenovela con todos los dialogos que parecian directo de un libro clasico!