Cartagena in the Time of Cholera

· Culture, Violence

The movie revealed not only a novel but a real city: Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias.Septiembre 2007 656By Albeiro Rodas

Cartagena – PasCol. When Scott Steindorff bought the rights of the Gabriel García Márquez novel to make his film, he did not buy Colombia: he was thinking in recreate a Cartagena de Indias in Mexico or in Brazil. Colombia was then a dangerous country.

Picture by Bitacoreta.

The same Colombian 1982 Nobel Prize, Gabo – as he is known in the Hispanic world – and the Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos, asked him to consider the same Cartagena de Indias promising security guarantees for the production. Steindorff brought Mike Newell to the city, as he said in a press conference in Cartagena after the movie was presented there, and let him to stay for some days to prove if that was real, if Cartagena Colombia was a real secure city. The yes of Newell archived the Mexican and Brazilian options and the movie stayed in the city.

Edward Norton and Naomi Watts in The Painted Veil. Courtesy photo published by The Prague Post.

According to García Márquez words in his novel cited by Los Angeles Times, Cartagena is a place that “stood unchanging at the edge of time… where flowers rusted and salt corroded, where nothing had happened for four centuries except a slow aging among withered laurels.”

During the troublesome last years of the 20th Colombian century, Cartagena as many other national regions, was forbidden as a tourist spot. Kidnapping, violence, guns and other news where the only thing known abroad preventing foreigners to come. But during the last years, the city had experimented a tourist boom emerging as a preferred destination for visitors to the Caribbean region and as one of the main Colombian tourist spots with Medellín, Bogotá, Santa Marta and Cali.

Close-upDaniel Daza / Stone Village Pictures

Love in the Time of Cholera” is a 1985 novel of García Márquez which main scenery is this city that was once one of the most important ports of the Americas for the gold exploitation to the Spaniard Crown and the slave trade to South America. It is a epic tale set in an unnamed city, but descriptions shows the clue to Cartagena. The fortress of Cartagena is considered the biggest military engineering work of the 17th century in the Americas and it is today almost intact and declared by Unesco “patrimony of humanity.”

Steindorff not only felt in love with the Spaniard colonial fortress of romantic balconies and stunning beaches, but also got a Colombian girlfriend, Marcela Mar and is thinking in a next shoot in the city. Cartagena could be the South American Hollywood, doubtless, and it has everything for it. Furthermore, attention to the city would bring development to that other Cartagena back the lagoons where poverty is king.


  • Cartagena revels in love, sans cholera. Los Angeles Times. October 29, 2007

  • Productor de ‘El amor en los tiempos del cólera’ dice que se quiere quedar en Cartagena. El Tiempo, 29 de noviembre de 2007.

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