A year ago the paleoanthropologist presented Life, the great story: A journey through the labyrinth of evolution (edited by Destino), a great popular book in the wake of Hariri's 'Sapiens' that gave a global vision of the history of the evolution. Now, the co-director of the excavations in the Sierra de Atapuerca and the Prince of Asturias Award for Sciences chooses his cultural preferences: songs, stories and films that refer to open spaces, lives in communion with nature and, sometimes, some fringes of the History of Europe.
A book / Jack London
In times of confinement, what I most want is to imagine great landscapes, which is where I feel freest. Those unlimited horizons can be the prairie, the desert, the ice, the sea or space. Any adventure in such spaces makes my imagination run wild. And I feel like they tell me little stories, not novels, to read as if they were listening to them from the lips of their own author, while the canoe slides through the water or the horse advances with a tired step.
That's why I remember now a short story by Jack London entitled El burlado , which is part of his collection The best tales of the Great North . The grace of the stories is that the end surprises you and this one surprised me.
As a contract, Pío Baroja's book Fantasías vascas brings together a series of short stories that talk about small, green, intimate landscapes, but that excite me. They do not develop great arguments, they are almost old and scratched photographs on a fragile glass support. The collection contains what seems to me the saddest poem of the 20th century, a piece called the Sentimental Eulogy of the Accordion . It can even be heard on the internet recited in the voice of its author.
A long time ago I discovered that it is in people who seem harder, as in Baroja, where the most tender heart lives.
An album / Soundtrack of 'The Last of the Mohicans'
Throughout this long season of confinement I have had the fortune to listen many times on television, by some fortunate coincidence, to two of my favorite songs of modern music. One is April 20, 1990 from Celtas Cortos and the other, El Sitio de mi recreo by Antonio Vega. They have brought back memories of when we were young, funny, full of optimism and ... we felt indestructible. And it turned out that we were right and we were indestructible. There is the proof: Antonio Vega singing "where with my eyes closed you can see infinite fields."
As for symphonic music, why not listen to the soundtrack of the movie The Last of the Mohicans by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman. They make you want to run towards the Appalachians, but above all, they make you want to fall in love and die (awhile) of love. The reader will have noticed, if there were any, that I include the soundtracks of the films in symphonic music; to me they are great symphonies.
Finally, my suppressed desire to escape to the mountains leads me to Richard Strauss's An Alpine Symphony . With it you get up early (at any time of the day), see the sunrise, climb the top of a mountain, contemplate an incredible panorama and come down satisfied with having lived such an experience. All without leaving the chair. Or maybe we have risen?
A Movie / The Adventures of Jeremiah Johnson
As we dream big, let's not be short. Lawrence of Arabia , of course, to begin with. I have been fortunate to visit Wadi Rum, so I can say that I have been there, within the film. Continuing with landscapes to the beast, Memories of Africa , of course. I've also been lucky enough to get into that movie. I don't want to impress the reader, if there were any, but I've also been inside Gorillas in the mist .
But I haven't had the luck to get into my favorite western movie: The Adventures of Jeremiah Johnson , Sydney Pollack's movie based in part on the life of John Comehivers Johnson, Man of the Mountains (1824-1900. I suddenly realize that two of the three chosen films have Robert Redford as the protagonist. Let's add a fourth: Two men and a destiny . So that they later say that this man with blond-dyed hair has been a minor actor. I believe everything he does.
I will add two other movies, also adventure, but futuristic: Allien, the eighth passenger (and Sigourney Weaver reappears, another fixation) and Blade Runner . With those two masterpieces I think Ridley Scott has delivered. What are you saying, why don't I quote 2001, a space odyssey ? You are right, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick are also great.
A series / Game of Thrones
Here I am going to fall a little short, I'm afraid. I do not watch television series and well I am sorry because I would like to get hooked on one. But look, there are two exceptions.
One is Game of Thrones , which I have swallowed whole. Before I read the first book in the saga and I was surprised by the originality of the approach, because there are no good or bad and everyone can die at any time. I confess that I cannot bear the Manichaean movies, of good very good and bad very bad. And I'm still worse off having an actor turn to the camera and lecture me. Shakespeare did not do that, because life is something else. I also like Game of Thrones how much it resembles the medieval history of Spain, where there were neither good nor bad, and anyone could die in battle or treason. Or is it that the story of Alfonso VI of Castile, his intimate sister Doña Urraca, his murdered brother Don Fernando, El Cid, the swearing of Santa Gadea, the Taifa king of Zaragoza, that of Toledo, that of Seville and the Almoravid fanatics Newcomers from Africa do not compose a more exciting historical fresco than Game of Thrones ?
The other series is The Crown . Queen Elizabeth of England has been reigning for two more years than I have lived, so I can say that it is also the story of my life. Each episode is a movie film, with its own entity. I can't think of a better compliment.
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