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Málaga, Spain's native son Antonio Banderas has just signed on to play one of the city's most heralded figures, Pablo Picasso in 33 Days--or 33 dias in its native tongue. Variety reveals the film will capture the 33-day span in 1937 that Picasso spent on his awe-inspiring mural "Guernica." The monochrome painting was Picasso's response to the brutal decimation of the Spanish town for which it's named, and was created during the height of the Spanish Civil War. Though the piece has Picasso's distinctly surrealist style, it clearly offers a portrait of the agony and horror of war."Guernica" is counted amongst Picasso's most famous works, but in the context of the film will serve as the impetus that helps him overcome a personal crisis, which will tie into his romantic relationship with French Artist Dora Maar. At present there's no word on who could be cast as Maar.
Speaking to his reservations on accepting the role, Banderas admitted:
"[Picasso] is a character that has pursued me for a long time and I always rejected. He deserves a lot of respect because I am from Málaga, and I was born four blocks from where he was born."
With 33 Days, Banderas will join a curious batch of actors who have attempted to capture the enigmatic artist on film, including Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Miguel Ferrer, and Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, who most recently played Picasso in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. And while Banderas' heritage is sure to give his performance some added credence, I think Banderas, who so beautifully executed a slow-burn portrait of perfectionism and its inherent madness in The Skin I Live In, will prove an extraordinary choice for the role.
With a script penned by the film's director Carlos Saura and producer Elias Querejeta, 33 Days is slated to shoot this summer in Paris and Guernica with the remarkably low budget of roughly $7.9 million. However, with three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor) on board to lens the Spanish/French-language feature, my guess is this biopic will feel far from low budget.