University hosts author-turned-screenwriter Leonardo Padura Fuentes to discuss Netflix series ‘Four Seasons in Havana’
On Monday, Oct. 29, University of Puget Sound students, faculty and members of the community gathered for a screening and discussion of “The Winds of Lent,” the first of four episodes comprising the Cuban miniseries “Four Seasons in Havana.” “The Winds of Lent” kicks off with a murder, a sweet trumpet solo and a great deal of fog.
Leonardo Padura Fuentes, a native Cuban and the author of the four detective novels that the show is based on, gave a brief introduction to the episode before the screening and answered questions from the audience after.
In the introduction, Fuentes said that “Most of the cast is Cuban and most of the filming was done in Cuba,” emphasizing that the show’s airing on Netflix was a big win for the Cuban film industry.
Screenwriter Lucía Lópex Coll, Fuentes’ wife, was also present. The script that was used to create the show is an adaptation of Fuentes’ four novels done by the couple.
Each episode runs for about an hour and a half and focuses on the adventures of Mario Conde, played by Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría. Conde is your typical dark and mysterious detective. He is melancholy, brooding and a hopeless romantic.
His romantic interest and the femme fatale, Karina, is played by Colombian actress Juana Acosta. She brings out the best in Conde, even inspiring him to take up writing again, something that he is passionate about but has not done in a while due to mysterious circumstances.
The first episode follows the case of a young woman who is violently strangled in her apartment one night. It is revealed that Conde may or may not have a problem with alcohol and is on somewhat tense terms with his boss, who warns him not to go on a boozy bender again.
When asked what it was like to convert his novels into film format, Fuentes said, “The creation of atmosphere was very important.”
This emphasis on atmosphere manifests itself in the soundtrack and visual aesthetics of the show. The very beginning of the show introduces the nostalgic trumpet solo that persists throughout the entire episode. The trumpet’s soliloquies both reflect and add to the air of reminiscence and regret that the show carries.
Another contributor to this air of sentimentality are the visual aesthetics of the show itself, which was filmed mostly in Cuba. Fuentes said that “you see the poor and the rich parts of Havana” and that one of his goals with the show was to “provide a complete vision of what Havana is.”
Within the first five minutes of the show, Fuentes provides a gorgeous aerial view of Havana in the early hours of the morning. The show ends on a similar note, with Conde overlooking the city as the sun is just beginning to set.
Fuentes stated that “it was very hard to work with light in Havana,” but his end result betrays no sign of this difficulty. The look and feel of the show is distinctly nostalgic, but a touch of triumph and optimism is added as the show concludes with Conde solving the mystery and gaining a cathartic release.
He also provided insight into what it was like to write the original detective novels, stating that “the structure of detective stories is different because you have to give info away gradually. I tried to maintain that structure while writing the story.”
Similarly, the show follows this format and gradually gives away bits of information until together, the audience and Conde finally uncover the truth.
If you love a good mystery and/or have an appreciation for Latin American culture, this show is for you.