Gabo: The Creation Of Gabriel García Márquez


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Gabo: The Creation Of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will open Iberodocs 2016.
"An impressively thorough and comprehensive account."

Producing a documentary that encompasses the life story of a man famed, amongst other things, for his research skills and attention to detail, was never going to be an easy task. What Justin Webster has created here deserves to be celebrated. Though there will always be more tales to tell, this is an impressively thorough and comprehensive account. It doesn't attempt to match the poetry of its subject's own storytelling but its narrative, like his, is open to interpretation in many different ways, and richer for it.

Fitting together the pieces of the writer's life like a jigsaw puzzle, Webster takes us back to to his early childhood, his temporary abandonment by his parents, and his experience of growing up with a superstitious grandmother and a grandfather (later fictionalised as the colonel to whom nobody writes) who talked to him like an adult and obsessed about death. We follow little Gabito reunited with his father, losing his virginity in the town brothel, travelling to the city, falling in love, getting his first taste of politics and taking his first steps as a reporter. Interviews with people who knew him and complemented with archive footage, some of it personal, some historical; and with intermittent readings from his work. Old, fragmenting newspaper pages showcase his early work the pivotal articles that brought him to national attention. Later, there are newsreel clips showing irreverent banter with Fidel Castro, hugs whose enthusiasm none of his criticism seemed to damped.

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The great and the good of south American politics and poetry are here, along with ample depictions of its ugly side: a car door riddled with bullets marks another good friend lost. We visit the buildings where Gabo, as he had become, continually deferred the rent; then, in stark photographs, the sudden luxury that came with fame and threatened to overwhelm the writer. He never wrote a book in less than 20 years after getting the initial idea, a friend explains, and we get a glimpse of he ongoing creative processes layered atop one another, striving for attention and focus through all the clamour of interaction with the world. The time constraints of the format are such that not every book is explored in detail; the more personal ones come to the fore. Love In The Time Of Cholera and the daring required to create a happy ending. Gabo's fear of Colombians and News Of A Kidnapping.

The power of this film is to restore the personal and provide perspective on the effort involved in creation, moving us away from the distant assumption of genius that marks the legend. If Gabo's work was anything, it was human; his triumph was his retention of tenderness in face of all the world's ill-considered brutality. Webster's film reminds us how much more that genius is required for that. It is a fitting tribute t the courage of a man who understood more than most of us dare to.

The film will screen at DocHouse in the UK, for details of dates and times, visit the official site

Reviewed on: 23 Nov 2015
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Gabo: The Creation Of Gabriel García Márquez packshot
A documentary portrait of the literary giant.

Director: Justin Webster

Writer: Kate Horne, Justin Webster

Starring: Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Jon Lee Anderson, Xavi Ayén, Bill Clinton

Year: 2015

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Spain


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