Alatriste (Captain Alatriste) (2006)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Agustn Daz Yanes.

Starring:      Viggo Mortensen (Diego Alatriste),  Elena Anaya (Anglica de Alquzar),  Unax Ugalde (igo BalboaBalboa),  Eduard Fernndez (Sebastin Copons),  Eduardo Noriega (Conde de Guadalmedina),  Ariadna Gil (Mara de Castro),  Juan Echanove (Francisco de Quevedo),  Javier Cmara (Conde Duque de Olivares),  Antonio Dechent (Curro Garrote),  Blanca Portillo (Fray Emilio Bocanegra),  Francesc Garrido (Martn Saldaa),  Pilar Lpez de Ayala (Mujer de Malatesta),  Jess Castejn (Luis de Alquzar),  Cristina Marcos (Joyera),  Luis Zahera (Pereira).

heroic Spanish soldier fighting in Flanders in 17th century has to look after a dying friend's son in Madrid

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

"In the 17th century, though surrounded by enemies, Spain still ruled the world.  The King was Philip IV, the 'Planet King" and his lands were ruled with an iron hand by his favorite, the count-duke of Olivares.  To Flanders, the Americas, the Philippines, part of Italy and North Africa, Portugal and its colonies had been added.  But it was in Flanders, in a long, cruel war, where the battle for the empire's survival was at stake.  An empire sustained by professional armies whose main core were veterans of the dreaded Spanish infantry regiments.  This is the story of one of those men."

Flanders, winter, 1622.  Alatriste pushes his way through the water with his musket over his head and with a lit wick wrapped around his left arm.  His comrades are also in the water.  These Spaniards sneak up on the shore and start killing the guards and spiking the cannon.  They then turn to shooting the enemy in their tents.  The enemy begins to swarm around the raiders, forcing them back into the water.  The enemy also goes into the water.  The fog covers the position of the various fighters.  One Dutchman is shot and his two comrades flee.  The Spanish finish him off using a knife.  Alatriste kills a soldier and then another.  A friend of Alatriste is dying.  The man asks Alatriste to take care of his son igo Balboa. 

Later Alatriste receives a letter from Ana Balboa that says:  "In compliance with the wishes of my father who died . . . in the land of heretics, I send you my brother igo Balboa, whom I have not the means to maintain."

Walking through the streets with Alatriste, igo sees a young, beautiful lady (Anglica de Alquzar) riding in a carriage.  She returns the looks of igo.  The guys go to a bar where they sit with the Spanish  poet Don Francisco de Quevedo.  Don Francisco says that he is lucky because Olivares likes him and the favorite minister of the king lets him live in Madrid.   A soldier sitting at the next table tells Don Francisco that the best poetry is by Luis Gongora.  This makes Francisco mad and a fight almost breaks out between the two tables, but is nipped in the bud by the constable making an appearance in the bar. 

The constable comes over to Alatriste and says he has an easy job for him and a purse to share.  Alatriste asks who is behind this?  The Constable takes Alatriste to see Father  Emilio Bocanegra, president of the Council of the Inquisition.  He tells Alatriste that two foreign gentlemen will enter Madrid Friday night and he wants Alatriste and the constable to kill the two heretics. 

On Friday night the constable and Alatriste confront the two foreign gentlemen.  The two Spanish fellows are easily defeating the foreigners, but Alatriste stops the constable from killing the men.  He says he just has a feeling that these are not just simple heretics.  The constable is angry, but agrees to spare them.

One of the men who fought alongside Alatriste against the Dutch, Count de Guadalmedina, speaks with Alatriste.  He asks:  "Do you know who you almost killed last night?"  The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Buckingham.  He goes on to say that Princess Maria was to marry the Prince of Wales.

Inigo runs to get some wine for Alatriste and he runs rights into and knocks down Angelica.  She pretends that she can't walk because of the blow.  So Inigo carries her over to her uncle, Luis de Alquzar, physically a big man.  Uncle says to Angelica that he hopes she knows what she is doing.  She tells him not to worry, she knows.  She adds that whatever happens, don't kill Alatriste because she has plans for Inigo.  Let Alatriste raise the boy and then they can kill the man.

Alatriste, Don Francisco and the husband of the beautiful actress Maria de Castro talk together.  The husband wants to introduce his wife to Alatriste, but Maria says that Diego and she know each other. Later Alatriste and Maria are in bed together.  They kiss.  They first saw each other three years ago.  Alatriste says that he missed her.  There is a knock at the door.  Alatriste is arrested in the name of the Inquisition.  The constable has to check Alatriste for any hidden weapons.  The man finds a knife in Diego's boot, but decides to leave it there. 

Alatriste sees Father Bocanegra, who tells him:  "My son, you are a traitor and an incompetent."  But he lets Alatriste go free.  He says:  "God knows where to find you." 

Alatriste is now free.  He walks through a narrow alleyway and becomes alert for a possible ambush.  A man comes toward him, but it turns out to be the constable.  They speak a little, but are interrupted by the arrival of three men.  The constable starts insulting the men, saying:  "You Spaniards are so vain and coarse. . . . You lack finesse."  A sword fight begins, but the three soon realize they are going to lose this contest and they flee.  The constable finally tells Alatriste his name.  It's Malatesta.   He adds that he is looking forward to fighting Alatriste.  He also says that he is from Palermo (in Sicily).  Before leaving, Malatesta slashes at Alatriste's right arm saying this way Alatriste will always remember him. 

A nun tells Olivares that that the secretary of the king is the one who hired the three assassins sent to kill Alatriste. 

Inigo and Angelica cut their fingers and press them together.  Angelica says:  "Now we are united forever."  Inigo tells her:  "I would die for you."  Angelica responds:  "Someday you may."  Malatesta comes up to Inigo and warns him about Angelica.  A woman can gain power over a man if he falls in lover with her.  A woman represens tyranny over a man.  Inigo must be careful.  Inigo just says he doesn't know Malatesta and dismisses his advice. 

Conde de Guadalmedina may be made a Spanish grandee.  He tells Alatriste to go speak with Olivares.  Alatriste speaks with Olivares, who has been looking over the man's records.  He says Alatriste served in Naples and Flanders and against the Turks in Levante and on the Barbary Coast.  Now Olivares wants to know who recruited Alatriste for the job of assassinating the foreigners?  Alatriste won't tell him.  So Olivares calls for Luis de Alquzar.  He asks if it was Father Bocanegra who hired the assassins?  Luis says he doesn't know.  Olivares says he is transferring Luis elsewhere  --  to the Indies. 

Olivares tells Alatriste that Gen. Ambrosio Spinola wants to win more battles in Flanders.  He tells the soldier to go fight for the general.  Alatriste tells him:  "Flanders is hell itself."  Olivares responds:  "We need that hell."

Breda, Flanders, 1624, after one year of a Spanish siege.  Alatriste, Inigo and some of Alatriste's pals are in the trenches outside the fort.  Alatriste tells Inigo that he heard that Inigo got a letter from Angelica.  The conversation is broken by the arrival of Captain Bragado.  One of Alatriste's friends wants to complain to the captain.  His biggest complaint is that they have not been paid for the past five months.  Bragado answers by saying that no one, not even the general himself, has received any pay for this latest period.  He then turns to Alatriste to tell him that his orders are to go down to the tunnels with his men.

Alatrista, Inigo and the gang are in a terribly narrow tunnel.   They have to crawl to get through the tunnels.  At a certain point they hear Dutch voices and the sound of digging.  Alatriste plants a bomb next to the wall of the tunnel from where the noise is coming.  He lights the fuse, but the darn fire burns out.  And it sounds as if the Dutch are about to enter the tunnels of the Spanish.  Alatriste cuts the fuse very short and lights it.  All of a sudden a Dutchman breaks through the wall.  He sticks his head out to see what is this opening he has reached and Alatriste stabs him many times in the neck with a knife.  He then pushes the dying man's head back into the Dutch tunnel and throws the bomb in with the fellow.  There is a big explosion.  The men have to get out as fast as they can because sulfur fumes completely fill the tunnels.  The men go fast, holding handkerchiefs over their mouths and noses.  As they reach the safety of fresh air, Bragado tells them the news:  "Breda has surrendered."  One fellow has to go back into the sulfur-filled tunnel to retrieve one of their men who has been stranded in the tunnel.  The abandoned fellow is brought out and saved. 

Madrid.  10 years later.  Olivares is still in power.  He gives Inigo a letter for Alatriste. 

Port Caleta, Cadiz.  The landing of the Flanders' veterans.  Alatriste is back in Spain, along with his men.  Inigo is there to welcome the men home.  He gives Alatriste the letter. 

The news of the day is that war with France is expected.  Don Francisco married a widow.  And the painter Velasquez finished the painting:  "The Surrender of Breda".  Moreover, Angelica has returned to Spain from the Indies. 

Don Francisco tells Alatriste that the Count of Guadalmedina wants him to do a job for him.  So Alatriste meets with the count.  The count tells him that there will 23,000 unregistered ingots of gold on the ship Virgen de Regla.  The ship will anchor off Seville and the gold will be transferred to a Flemish boat, the Niklaasbergen.  It will be Alatriste's job to take the gold off the Niklaasbergen.  The gold will eventually be taken to the King of Spain. 

Maria de Castro is acting in a play.  Alatriste, Inigo and Don Francisco are there watching the play.  Angelica tells Inigo that she has plans for him.  Inigo tells her that he has plans for her too. After the play Maria and Alatriste talk.  She tells him that her husband is dying and she is thinking of remarrying to Alatriste.  Alatriste asks her about her many admirers for he says he would kill the first admirer that tried anything with her.  Maria asks:  "What do you care?  You don't love me."  Alatriste removes her right earring, a gift of the King, and whispers to her:  "What do you know?"  They kiss. 

Alatriste needs men for his next job.  He goes to the prison to talk to a man who is about to be hanged.  He asks him for the names of some men that he can trust.  The condemned man says that all his friends here in prison are very trustworthy.  Alatriste  tells the man the bad news that he can get his friend released, but not him. 

Alatriste walks over the sand dunes to the shore accompanied by the hanged man's men.

Luis Pereira tells Inigo about all his troubles.  The Inquisition has taken two of his family members and now they seem to be after him.  As they talk, the members of the Inquisition come for Luis.  The man is so scared of being tortured by the Inquisition that he slits his own throat to avoid that possibility. 

Angelica speaks with Inigo.  She tells him that he has some friends that are enemies of her friends.  He says he has to go, but Angelica tells him to stay wither her.  She warns him that he must not go to that appointment (with Alatriste and his gang).  He says he has to go, so to stop him from going, she stabs Inigo with a knife in his right thigh. 

Alatriste and his men get into two boat to go to the attack.  The raiders board the Flemish ship, but they find no one on deck.  That makes them very wary and, sure enough, it's an ambush.  The men on the ship use firearms and small cannons on Alatriste and his men.  Malatesta is one of those already on the ship.   Alatriste fights with Malatesta, who gets away by jumping off the ship.  Alatriste and Sebastian go down into the hold and see all those gold ingots there.  Two guys from the hanged man's crew also come down and they make it clear that they are going to take the gold for themselves.  Alatriste and his associate kill the two interlopers. 

Alatriste and the wounded Inigo talk about Angelica.  He warns Inigo that there is no way that he can marry Angelica.  They wouldn't let her marry him, even if she wanted to.  The two men obviously have different views on Angelica. 

Alatriste comes for the wounded Malatesta.  He has his pistol ready to shoot the man, but just then the wife of Malatesta comes into the room.  Alatriste doesn't shoot.  He leaves. 

Alatriste is walking in the woods where the King of Spain is hunting deer.  He steps on a fallen branch and it snaps.  This scares the targeted deer, who takes off.  The King is denied his shot.  Instead of the King getting angry, he takes out a gold chain and has Olivares take it over to Alatriste as a gift. 

Angelica talks with Inigo.  She tells him that she is now a lady in waiting for the queen.  There is a vacancy for the position of second lieutenant in the Royal Guard and she wants Inigo to take it.  But Inigo has a different plan.  For them to truly be together, he wants her to go with him to Naples by ship.  Angelica, however, is not giving up her plan.  She says that in two to three years, Inigo will be a captain.  Inigo tries to win her over to her side by kissing her passionately.  And yet, she still tells Inigo to take that vacancy.  Inigo refuses, so she tells her lover that he is dead to her.  She leaves.

Don Francisco complains to Alatriste that Spain is now a nation of beggars, whereas it once was the center of the universe.  The war in France goes badly.  Cardinal Richelieu and the French King work closely with each other to do damage to Spain.  Meanwhile, Olivares has turned the Spanish King into a prisoner and a palace puppet.  Alatriste changes the subjects by asking Don Francisco if there is any news of Inigo?  Don Francisco says yes, but Alatriste is not going to like it.   The young man has become a sword for hire.  There is a scene where Inigo kills a man and then immediately collects his payment for the deed. 

The sun awakens Alatriste. He goes to a pawn dealer and exchanges the very expensive royal chain for just one necklace for Maria.  He tries to reach Maria, but many men prevent that.  Even the Count of Guadalmedina tries to stop Alatriste.  Alatriste defeats the Count in a sword fight, but he does not kill the man.  All of a sudden, Alatriste sees the door open and the Spanish King standing in the door well watching him.  Alatriste realizes that Maria's admirer is none other than the King of Spain.  The door is closed and the King leaves in his carriage taking the Count with him.  Maria opens the door, but when she sees Alatriste she quickly closes the door on him.

Olivares's days are numbered.  And the queen wants Angelica to marry Count Guadalmedina.  This upsets Angelica a great deal.  She writes a letter to Inigo saying that she will now go with him to Naples.  Inigo and Angelica are in bed.  She is nude.  She tells Inigo that they would be living in sin in Naples.  Inigo scoffs at the very idea.  They kiss. 

Don Francisco talks with Alatriste and tells him that Maria is only a woman and he should leave Madrid.  Alatriste tells Don Francisco that he too should leave Madrid.  Francisco leaves. 

Angelica comes down the stairs on her way to the boat that will take her and Inigo to Naples.  But she starts thinking that if she stays she will be a grandee and her children and her children's children will also be grandees.  That is too nice of a dream to give up, so she turns around and goes back up the stairs.  Meanwhile, Inigo waits patiently for her arrival.  She doesn't show up and Inigo gives up. 

Sebastian tells Alatriste that Don Francisco was arrested and now is in the prison of San Marcos, the coldest prison in Spain.  His friend says:  "We should have kept that gold for ourselves."  Alatriste only says:  "Maybe."

After losing Angelica, Inigo has gone down hill.  He has been gambling and now can't pay his debts.  So the young man is being held hostage.  The gambling den owner contacts Alatriste.  Alatrise and Sebastian come.  The soldier gives the fancy necklace meant for Maria in exchange for Inigo, but the owner will only take cash.  Alatriste doesn't have it, so his friend takes off his money belt and takes out the 200 ducats to pay the debt. 

Maria gets word to Alatriste to meet her at a certain place.  Alatriste is there at the designated time, but there is no Maria.  All of a sudden the Count of Guadalmedina and a man named Martin come out to kill Alatriste.  Alatriste, however, badly wounds Martin and beats down the Count (but he doesn't kill him).  He is all done, but Malatesta suddenly jumps out.  The two start sword fighting.  Malatesta slashes Alatriste across the chest and Alatriste goes to the ground.  After a few remarks, Malatesta stabs Alatriste once more and then leaves.  Martin is still alive and talks a bit to Alatriste, but then dies.  As Alatriste lays there, Maria comes over to him and says sadly:  "Diego, they forced me to do it." 

Inigo shows up to fight Malatesta for what he did to Alatriste.  The two go outside.  Inigo stabs Malatesta in the chest fairly quickly and then slits the man's throat. 

Angelica's uncle tells Count Guadalmedina that he is ready to give him a big dowry on behalf of his niece.  He starts naming the properties the Count will receive, but the Count stops him from going on. 

Alatriste is alive still and living with Inigo.  The wife of Maltesta comes to Alatriste to fulfill her husband's wishes.  She gives Alatriste her husband's sword and then tells him that her husband instructed her that if he died, Alatriste could keep his wife.  Alatriste declines.  The wife leaves. 

Winter, Madrid.  The Syphilitics Hospital.  Alatriste comes to the hospital to visit Maria.  She is all in black and wears a heavy veil over her face.  Alatriste is very tender with her.  He gives her the necklace he had gotten for her.  He cries and she cries.  She kisses his hand.  He tells Maria:  "I should have married you."  He lifts the veil and passionately kisses her and she kisses him back. 

Inigo is arrested for being a spy for France.  Alatriste goes to the Countess of Guadalmedina and asks her a favor.  He has a letter about Inigo that he wants her to give to Olivares.  (He himself is not even allowed to get close to Olivares.)  Alatriste adds that Inigo has been oaring on the galleys for a year now.   Angelica starts to cry and Alatriste asks her not to cry.  She says:  "I must cry, Captain.  Betrayal is a stain that never ages.  I'll give the letter to the count-duke."

Now Alatriste gets to meet with Olivares.  The man is very down about the future of Spain.  He says that God has abandoned Spain.  He says Casale should have been taken; Turin saved; Arras relieved; and the Catalans and Portuguese should never have rebelled against their king.  Olivares then tells Alatriste that the evidence proves that Inigo was a spy, but all is not lost.  Richelieu is ill and the Dutch want peace.  He tells Alatriste he may go, but Alatriste is not going.  He screams:  "Excellency!"  Everybody turns to see what Alatriste is going to do. 

Inigo works on the galleys oaring.  A man comes up to him and tells him:  "The King has pardoned you."  Inigo seems oh, so relieved. 

Alatriste waits for Inigo to arrive on the beach.  Inigo has a rough time getting out of the water and onto the beach.  Alatriste walks over to him and helps lift him up.  He says:  "Let's go home, son."

Rocrio, May 1643.  Inigo and Alatriste are together in the Cartagena Infantry Regiment.  It has been 8 hours since the battle started and there are not that many Spaniards left to fight against the French.  What's left of the Spanish men is further diminished by cannon wiping out a lot of Spaniards all neatly lined up in formation.  And now they have to prepare to be hit by the cavalry wearing armor.  The Spaniards form a tight formation and lower their very long pikes.  This stops a lot of the horses cold and the Spanish are able put up a good defense, but now the French come with their own pikes.  The two enemy formations are kind of stuck on each other's pikes.  Inigo, Alatriste and Sebastian kill a lot of Frenchmen by going underneath the pikes and getting to the enemy.  These men are all wounded, but still survive. 

The French come out with a white flag with a message from their leader, the Duke of Enghien.  The Duke is quoted as saying the Spanish fought bravely and so he offers them an honorable surrender.  But Alatriste, Inigo and Sebastian have no intention of surrendering.  The fight will resume.  Trying to make his way back to the formation, Sebastian dies.  Inigo and Alatriste get back in their now much smaller formation.  The commander of the group gives the order for all new soldiers to get to the rear of the formation.  Alatriste indicates to Inigo that he wants him to go to the back.  Inigo obeys.  And here now comes the cavalry again.  Alatriste raises his two swords ready to fight off the Frenchmen.  The warrior is hit by a bullet, but he straightens himself up and starts fighting.

 

Good movie.  And I didn't have any films about Philip IV of Spain.  The film covers the years between 1622 and 1643 when Philip IV was king. The film sticks pretty closely to the basic historical facts even if Alatriste is a fictional character.  This gives the viewer a chance to think about this period of time in Europe in which The Eighty Years' War and the Thirty Years' War (both ending in 1848) continued.  Viggo Mortensen as Diego Alatriste was very good.  It was interesting that all the major female characters were of  bad or questionable behavior and it does make me wonder why?  Anyway, there was a lot of action in the film, which will please action fans.   

The film shows the power of Spain, but at the end of the film the decline of Spanish power is very noticeable.  Spain did reach its zenith as far as territory is concerned for the 17th century, but the wars were so costly that Spain started a downward spin.  The weakness of Philip IV to bring about needed reforms in the military and political life contributed to this decline. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

1598-1621  --  reign of Philip III of Spain. 

1605  -- birth of the future Philip IV of Spain. 

1615  --  the 10 year old future Philip IV marries Isabella of France.  Have 7 children, but only 1 son. Baltasar Carlos. 

1618-1648  -- span of the Thirty Years' War.  Started as a religious conflict in the Holy Roman Empire and became part of the Bourbon-Habsburg rivalry for top European power.  Spain is with the Holy Roman Empire versus the kingdom of France.  Had 4 phases:  Bohemian revolt (1618-1621); Danish Intervention (1625-1629); Swedish Intervention (1630-1635); and the French Intervention (1635-1648).

1621-1665   --  reign of Philip IV of Spain.  Philip IV is only 16 years old.  He makes count-duke Olivares his favorite advisor.  All papers to be signed by Philip IV had to go through Olivares first.  For the next 20 years Olivares would be the monarch's confidant and chief minister.  Under Philip IV the Spanish Empire of the 17th century reached its zenith, but Spain begins to decline from that zenith. 

1621 --  renewal of the war between Spain and the Dutch. 

1624  --  in the war with the Dutch, Spain under Ambrosio Spinola takes the key city of Breda (in today's southern Netherlands). 

1629  --  King Philip IV has an illegitimate son (Juan Jos) by the striking Mara Ins Caldern, an actress.

by 1630  --  Philip IV agrees to prioritize the war in Flanders (with the Dutch) which antagonizes France's Louis XIII.

1634  --  Spain raises a fresh army that marches into Germany and defeats the Swedish-led Protestant forces at the Battle of Nrdlingen.

1635  --  the Spanish-French War begins. 

1637  --  the Dutch under Frederick Henry of Orange retakes Breda from Spain. 

from 1640  --  the war with the Dutch becomes so expensive that there are many revolts in the Spanish kingdom.  Philip IV no longer makes Flanders the number one priority. 

1640 an attempt by Olivares to intervene in Catalonia to deal with the French invasion threat results in revolt by Catalan rebels. In trying to mobilize Portuguese noble support for the war, Olivares triggers an uprising. Lisbon's nobles expel Philip, and give the throne to the Braganzas. This is the end of sixty years of the Iberian Union and the beginning of the Portuguese Restoration War.

1643 (May 19)   --   Spain under Gen. Francisco de Melo is defeated at the Battle of Rocroi by the French under Duc d'Enghien.  Even so, Spain remains strong.

1643  --  Isabella manages to remove Olivares from the court.  Olivares is replaced as the king's favorite by Luis de Haro. 

1646  --  at age 16, Baltasar Carlos dies. 

1648  --  the Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic.  But the Spanish-French War continues.

1651 Philip IV begins a successful offensive against the French in Catalonia

1659 the Treaty of the Pyrenees (plus the marriage of Philip IV's daughter Maria Theresa to the young French King Louis XIV) finally ends the Spanish-French War.

1661  --  death of Luis de Haro. 

1665  --  death of Philip IV. 

 

 

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