Friday, November 29, 2013
One of the great television joys of this autumn has been the Spanish series Isbael, based on the life of Isabella I of Castile (Isabel the Catholic). The lead role is played by Michelle Jenner who was born in Barcelona of mixed English-French ancestry.
The TVE produced series has been described in some quarters as lavish, which is possibly pushing it a bit far as it seems so far to have been filmed in four rooms, a forest and a lake, nevertheless the acting has been very good especially by Jenner in the title role. We have reached the point in the story where Isabella is about to marry Ferdinand II of Aragon. Now old Ferdy was a bit of a ladies man, he actually had the good fortune to spend most of his leisure time in bed with the only wench in Aragon who had received breast enhancements in 15th century Spain. He arrived in Valladolid for their secret assignation with a reputation preceding him and when Isabel caught him making eyes at one of the waitresses during a meal to discuss the wedding she was not best impressed, when she later caught him talking to the same woman in the castle courtyard she feared the worst - Ferdinand was quick to correct her on her misinterpretation of the facts and the wedding went ahead.
Now I'm not sure how often TV roles call on an actress to play a virgin (leaving the nativity to one side) but that is what Jenner had to do in this role - this is after all catholic Spain in 1469. The scene where Rodolfo Sancho (playing Ferdy II) and Jenner were in the Royal bed chamber and the look on her face as she prepared for the consummation (she had previously consulted her priest over her fears and told her lady in waiting that she had calculated they would only be able to have sex thirty seven times a year if she observed religious events) were beautifully acted, Jenner managing to convey in looks rather than words the apprehension of her character.
So far it has been an excellent series exploring and explaining the fight for the crown of Spain and the political battles that took place leading to the coronation of Isabella. We still have the conquest of Granada, the sponsorship of Columbus and the expulsion of the Jews, not to mention the Spanish Inquisition (amongst our weaponry etc) to come and it will be interesting to see how Jenner handles to ageing process of her character.
Posted by Paul at 7:09 PM