'Santa Evita' recounts the journey "of a body aimlessly and without a tomb that becomes a legend"

‘Santa Evita’ recounts the journey “of a body aimlessly and without a tomb that becomes a legend”

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Eva Perón died on July 26, 1952, but her body did not rest until two decades later.. The story is so bizarre that if they tell you, you won’t believe it. And that is why it must be told as ‘Santa Evita’ does, the series of Disney+ Based on the novel by Tomás Eloy Martínez. In an interview with its protagonists and architects, director Alejandro Maci says that “sometimes the idiosyncrasy of a town is defined by what it hides, not by what it shows.” A reading that in this case applies to Argentina but that we could apply to other countries.

The series, which incidentally is produced by Salma Hayek Pinault and her partner Pepe Támez, is conceived as a thriller and its director, Alejandro Maci, explains why: “Santa Evita it is the story of a secret, that is why it is a thriller because it is something that is hidden and that some sought to hide, others sought to discover and others sought to steal”.


A story of magnetic characters

the miniseries adapts the homonymous novel by Tomás Eloy Martínez that tells the journey of the remains of Eva Perón, embalmed by the Spaniard Pedro Ara and that drove the military intelligence officer Moori Koenig, in charge of guarding Evita’s body after the overthrow of the Peronist regime, to obsessive madness. The Uruguayan actress Natalia Oureiro gives life to the president, while the Spaniards Fransesc Orella Y Ernest Alterio they play, respectively, the doctor and the soldier. We have spoken with all three about obsessions, passion and machismo.

Oreiro confesses to us that he felt a great “responsibility” and why not “some panic” when getting into the skin of a character of the magnitude of Eva Perón, although he is eager to share the work with the public. The Uruguayan actress tells us that the series is the story “of the path of a body aimlessly and without a grave that becomes a legend and that reflects how powerful and luminous she (Evita Perón) was, living so that, after she died, the men are still obsessed with her. In addition, it is inevitable to make a feminist reading because “all these men obsessed with the body of a powerful woman is a reflection that men do not want women to have that power.”

Natalia Oreiro is Eva Perón in 'Santa Evita'

Although, as we have said, the life of Eva Perón is known almost in detail; there is very little documentation of Moori Koenig’s character “because he himself took it upon himself to leave no trace”, Ernesto Alteri tells useither. About his character, he affirms that he was “a very complex man, very hermetic, a brilliant intelligence soldier in his own thing who is surprised by something that escapes him, that he cannot control and that has to do with a passion, a crush It’s out of your control.” Koenig was in charge of recovering, after the overthrow of Perón, the body of Evita that had been embalmed by Dr. Pedro Ara and in which the doctor was still working in a makeshift laboratory at the CGT headquarters while waiting to be buried in the mausoleum of the monument to the descamisado that was never built. The surprise came when, according to the novel, Koenig found four bodies and not one and hatched a plan to make both the body and the replicas disappear. and thus prevent it from becoming a symbol for the Peronists. The curious thing is that where the body was hidden, candles and flowers appeared, maddening whoever guarded it.

In the case of Pedro Ara, the Spanish doctor played by Francesc Orella, we are also facing a brilliant professional. And in her case, the obsession with Eva Perón’s body has a scientific motivation because “the embalming of Eva Perón was the great professional challenge of her life” and so he reflected in his memoir that has served as documentation for the series. Orella tells us that he “was very jealous of his profession and a perfectionist and became the guardian of Eva Perón’s body.” That situation was not something he was looking for and in fact he stayed out of politics, but “he found what he found at the political level, events overtook him and forced him to be the guardian. It is true that there is an obsession also from the doctor, but it is more professional”, he tells us.

In 'Santa Evita', Francesc Orella plays the Spanish doctor Pedro Ara who embalmed Eva Perón

What is true and what is not in ‘Santa Evita’?

Alejandro Maci points out that we are facing “a story about domination and appropriation”: “Clearly, human beings are capable of developing enormous cruelty when we do not get what we think we should get,” he explains. Y in the series, the “military act as a metaphor for masculinity, taking over a female victim out of revenge, out of spite, out of seduction, out of perversion for so many issues that have caused that if Eva was not enough alive, they would have to dispute her corpse”. All these “sociological reflections”, says Maci, “the viewer will probably see them in a second reading”.

Given the implausibility of the story of the four bodies of Eva Perón, it is inevitable to ask ourselves what is true and what is not in ‘Santa Evita’. Maci has it clear and explains that everything that is seen “is true in terms of novel, there is no falsification”. But the director also specifies that “the series does not intend to take over an Argentine history course, it is not, nor should it be.”. “The series is based on a novel that comes from an investigation and the elements of the novel are historical facts but it is a novel, not a history book,” he insists.

A miniseries with blockbuster features

Through its seven episodes, ‘Santa Evita’ tells a story in the form of a thriller and despite its intimate aspect, it is a blockbuster filmed in more than 40 locations in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with more than 120 actors and actresses, and 1,300 extras. In addition, to the complications of filming and pre-production in a pandemic is added the fact that the series spans five different eras because “it goes through aspects of Eva Perón’s past until the zenith of her power, the events that surrounded her death and the years that followed, in addition, all of this is interspersed with the story of the journalist who investigated what happened in the 70s”, as Alejandro Maci told us. In short, ‘Santa Evita’ It will be a real discovery for the public because “they will find out what they never knew, what was hidden under the stones”.

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