Without limits: the fabulous journey of Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano, narrated with ambition and a great visual display

Unlimited (Spain/2022). Address: Simon West. Creator and showrunner: Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga. Script: Patxi Amezcua. Photography: Shelley Johnson. Music: Federico Jusid. Edition: Andrew MacRitchie. Cast: Rodrigo Santoro, Alvaro Morte, Carlos Cuevas, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Bárbara Goenaga, Pepón Nieto, Niccoló Senni. Available in: Amazon Prime Video. Our opinion: good.

It’s worth the production effort. And not much else. Any more or less ambitious audiovisual project about the fabulous first trip in history that was made around the world will at least achieve the goal of reminding us in the 21st century of the story of someone who was encouraged at a certain and distant moment in history to travel. beyond the last frontier fixed on the maps.

This was the case of Ferdinand (or Hernando, as he was identified in some school textbooks) of Magellan, the audacious and despised Portuguese navigator who convinced the Spanish crown to finance a risky journey through unknown routes until then to find the long-awaited passage through the West to the final destination of the Moluccas Islands (or Spice Islands, as they were known at the time), in Indonesia, and ensure that the precious cargo reaches Spain without going through the usual route, longer and dominated by Portugal .

This miniseries begins by accumulating the same essential data that we learned when learning world history at school: the contempt of the Portuguese crown towards the adventure proposed by the visionary Magellan, how the navigator later convinces King Carlos I of Spain, the departure from an Andalusian port in September 1519 of the five ships commanded by Magellan (with 250 men on board) and the presence in the crew of the expert Spanish sailor Juan Sebastián de Elcano, who three years later would complete the trip together with just 18 survivors.

The care taken by a large-scale production in the essential details of a story of this type are visible and deserve to be highlighted. But no external element could shine completely without functioning as an appropriate tool and put at the service of the most attractive of all: the exploration of the personality of its protagonists. Especially what is it that leads a man to undertake such an adventure with no other expectation than to remain in history forever. Nothing less.

Alvaro Morte as Juan Sebastián de Elcano in the miniseries No Limits

Not even the didactic script by Patxi Amezcua (Seventh) nor the direction of Simon West are up to such purposes. Especially the work of West, a British director who has a background in Hollywood cinema as solid a priori as With Air, Risk in the Air, The General’s Daughter, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (the adventure starring Angelina Jolie) and The Expendables 2.

West has plenty of skill to handle the action with a firm hand, sustain the evolution of the story with enough energy (whose disturbing soundtrack belongs to the Argentine composer Federico Jusid) and deploy all the resources at his disposal in correct mass scenes. But it is difficult to discover behind them what is the real reason that leads the central characters to launch themselves into the unknown in this way. What kind of ambition, greed or avidity does each of them have? West doesn’t seem too interested in finding out. He falls short of describing the political intrigues that pitted Magellan and Elcano against distrustful Spanish officials.

It becomes very difficult to find a genuine interest in knowing what each character hides in the depths of their conscience and how that temperament is put into play in an extreme situation such as that of a journey full of unknowns when each action and movement refers to everything that comes declaiming a minute before. There are also several frankly wasted characters such as Pepón Nieto’s father Bartolomé (a great secondary actor in Spanish cinema and TV) and Niccoló Senni’s Pigafetta.

Putting things this way, Unlimited It is the illustrated version in movement of a conventional history manual (with the addition of topics that were not even mentioned in other times, such as cases of sodomy among the members of the crew) and not a story that seeks to delve into the depth of the awareness of its central characters, something that luckily Rodrigo Santoro (Magallanes) and Alvaro Morte (Elcano) strive all the time to transmit and express. It is enough with this commitment, with the careful deployment of the entire production (which includes several scenes filmed in the Dominican Republic) and with the spirit of a journey that was unparalleled in the history of mankind.

We would like to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this remarkable material

Without limits: the fabulous journey of Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano, narrated with ambition and a great visual display