Netflix announced that it had acquired the rights to develop Gabriel García Márquez’s seminal novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” more than 50 years after it was originally published, in 1967. It will be the first time the novel is adapted for the screen.
It was not for lack of interest. In a recent call, the Nobel Prize winning novelist’s son Rodrigo García who will be an executive producer on the project along with his brother Gonzalo, said that his father had received many offers over the years to adapt the book to film. But, while some of his shorter books were adapted, his father was concerned that “One Hundred Years of Solitude” would not translate well or fit within a single movie (or even two), he added. García Márquez was also committed to the story being told in Spanish, so many offers were “non-starters” to him.
“In the last three or four years, the level and prestige and success of series and limited series has grown so much,” García said about his family’s decision to sell the development rights now. “Netflix was among the first to prove that people are more willing than ever to see series that are produced in foreign languages with subtitles. All that seems to be a problem that is no longer a problem.”
Francisco Ramos, the vice president for Spanish language originals at Netflix, said the company had tried before to obtain rights to the novel, but had been met with resistance. He noted the success of series like “Narcos” and movies like “Roma,” which recently won the Oscar for best foreign language film, that have shown “we can make Spanish-language content for the world.”
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” spans a century in the lives of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founded the fictitious Colombian town of Macondo. It’s considered a masterpiece of Latin American literature, bringing García Márquez to the forefront of the so-called Latin American Boom of the 1960s and ’70s and popularizing the genre of magical realism. Since its publication, the book has sold an estimated 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.
It’s still too early to know who will write for or be cast in the series, but Ramos said Netflix was committed to working with the best Latin American talent, and that the show would be shot in Colombia. The financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.
For Latin America — and Colombia — it’s the story of 100 years that “shaped us as a continent,” Ramos said, “through dictatorships, through births of new countries, through colonialism.” But he emphasized the story’s broad appeal: “We know it’s going to be very magical and very important for Colombians and Latin America, but the novel is universal.”
“I’ve been hearing the discussion about whether or not to sell the rights to ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ since I was 8,” García said. “It was not an uncomplicated decision to make, for myself and my brother and my mom. It feels like a great chapter opened, but also a long chapter has closed.”
Márquez, who died in 2014 at age 87, is widely considered one of the most accomplished authors of the 20th century. The writer, who helped develop the style of magic realism, received the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.