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Viggo Mortensen plays the Spanish soldier-turned-mercenary Captain Alatriste, a heroic figure from the country's 17th century imperial wars.

Release Year: 2006

Rating: 6.0/10 (6,164 voted)

Agustín Díaz Yanes

Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Elena Anaya, Unax Ugalde

Spain 17th century.Diego Alatriste, brave and heroic soldier, is fighting under his King's army in the Flandes region. His best mate, Balboa, falls in a trap and near to die ask to Diego, as his last desire, to looking after his son Inigo and grow him as a soldier. Alatriste has to come back to Madrid.

Writers: Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Agustín Díaz Yanes


Viggo Mortensen

Diego Alatriste

Elena Anaya

Angélica de Alquézar

Unax Ugalde

Íñigo Balboa

Eduard Fernández

Sebastián Copons

Eduardo Noriega

Conde de Guadalmedina

Ariadna Gil

María de Castro

Juan Echanove

Francisco de Quevedo

Javier Cámara

Conde Duque de Olivares

Antonio Dechent

Curro Garrote

Blanca Portillo

Fray Emilio Bocanegra

Francesc Garrido

Martín Saldaña

Pilar López de Ayala

Mujer de Malatesta

Jesús Castejón

Luis de Alquézar

Cristina Marcos


Luis Zahera



Official Website:
20th Century Fox [Spain] |
3L Filmverleih [Germany] |

Release Date: 1 September 2006

Filming Locations: Baeza, Jaén, Andalucía, Spain

Box Office Details

Budget: €24,000,000


Opening Weekend: €4,590,197
(1 September 2006)
(447 Screens)

Gross: €12,137
(13 May 2007)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Gael García Bernal was the first choice for the role played by Unax Ugalde.


During the white flag scene at Rocroi, the corpses around the Spanish soldiers move between takes.


Conde Duque de Olivares:
Without Flandes, there's nothing… Captain.

User Review

17th century brought to life

Rating: 9/10

'Alatriste' is a film based in a series of novels by Arturo
Pérez-Reverte (five until release time, with a sixth published four
months later) which is hugely popular in Spain. But undoubtedly it was
the news that Viggo Mortensen was to be playing the title character
what put the project onto the international radar.

In fact, had it not been for Mortensen's acceptance of the role, the
film would not have been made at all. Director Agustín Díaz Yanes, who
also adapted the script, condensing the five novels into 134 minutes of
action, said from the beginning that the film would be made only if a
major movie star fronted it, and the search soon took him beyond the
Spanish frontiers. To his credit, Mortensen accepted to follow up his
stardom-achieving role in 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy (the
clinching conversation for 'Alatriste' took place during the Berlin
premiere of 'The return of the king' in December 2003) with a daring
move that raised many eyebrows: starring in a non-English language
film, and speaking his whole part in Spanish with his own voice, whose
accent he had to change from the South American he knew since childhood
to the Old Castillian his role demanded.

The film follows 40-something Diego de Alatriste y Tenorio through 20
years of his life, from the wars in Flanders in 1623 to those against
France in 1643, when Spain, under king Philip IV, accelerated its
decline from its position as the world's dominating superpower. The
film is bookended by two spectacular feats of arms taken from each of
these conflicts, but in the middle we get to know the man under the
wide-brimmed hat and the long cloak. When not in the thick of the
action, he has to make a living hiring his skills, and those involve
killing for a few gold coins back in the dark corners of Madrid or
Seville: not for people of his type the kind of glamourised glory
depicted in victory-celebrating murals. Mortensen's portrayal – raspy
voice, cold-eyed gaze and menacing professional manner – is every bit
what the role demands, and his performance is one of the triumphs of
the film.

However, he is not all there is, even if the hype has made it seem that
Mortensen was all that mattered in the film. He is surrounded by a crew
he has celebrated as being as fine as any he's worked with anywhere,
and a cast of the best 'hidden' talent Spain has to offer (no Antonio
Banderas or Javier Bardem here). Accompanying the 'tired hero', as he
is described in the books, we have Unax Ugalde as Íñigo de Balboa, the
young buck Alatriste raises in lieu of his dead father; Elena Anaya as
Angélica de Alquézar, the scheming ladyservant of the queen; and
Ariadna Gil as 'la gran actriz' María de Castro, Alatriste's luscious
love interest. They form the heart of the film from the perspective of
personal relationships. In none of their hearts love for each other is
the only ingredient by any means, and negotiating their twists and
turns can be as dangerous as avoiding sharp and pointy steel objects in
the street. In fact, they don't stay sheathed indoors all the time

The rest of the painting is full of extraordinary nuances and details.
And 'painting' is the right word, because none other than one of the
greatest masters of the trade ever, Diego Velázquez, has been the
visual inspiration for the film, with his grave palette of black and
brown colours, a world away from the splendour and shine of previous
and later historical films. Spain was wealthy on the outside but poor
and rotten on the inside, and his paintings show this, as does the
film. The novels mix the imaginary characters hitherto mentioned with
real-life figures, and two of the supporting ones are brought to life
directly from his canvases. These are Javier Cámara as the Count-Duke
of Olivares, the mover and shaker behind the throne, and Juan Echanove
as the writer and poet Francisco de Quevedo. The first one is, as can
be expected, important to move the political plot forward, and the
second might seem peripheral and time-consuming, but his picture and
verses are in every school textbook in Spain, so for Spanish people
these two play the important role of making Velázquez's paintings move
and speak, bringing closer to home the other characters. It's been
Pérez-Reverte's aim from the beginning of the saga to use Alatriste's
stories to re-educate Spanish people in their own history, too
neglected in recent years (see trivia section on this site) and this is
a way of seeing what could have happened 400 years ago in the streets
one can still walk today. Not for nothing the premiere was planned, old
fashion style, in La Gran Vía, in the heart of El Madrid de los

This is the first English review of the film ever written (as far as I
know), fully one week ahead of the official Spanish release, so it is
mostly introductory and I am not going into more details on purpose.
Outside Spain, the film will be seen mostly in festivals, with foreign
releases happening gradually towards Christmas 2006. Just to say that
those who have read the books will find, as it usually happens, many
changes among a genuine attempt to be faithful to the spirit of the
original material, and that one thing you should avoid doing is seeing
it under the shadow of 'The Lord of the Rings', because of Viggo, or
under the shine of glossy Hollywood historical recreations full of
dizzying light and colour. The scale is much smaller, the atmosphere
darker and grittier, and sword master Bob Anderson, who crossed blades
with the likes of Errol Flynn (not to mention humming lightsabres and
Elvish-lettered weapons), has never been happier teaching people 'a
matar, y mucho'.