No One Writes to the Colonel (El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba)

Director: Arturo Ripstein
Screenwriters: Paz Alicia Garcia Diego

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


How does a soldier survive when the world of his battles and victories becomes extinct? Mexico’s master filmmaker Arturo Ripstein takes on this dilemma with depth and delicacy in this graceful screen adaptation of the classic novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Set in a small coastal town in the Veracruz tropics during the 1940s, No One Writes to the Colonel is a touching story of an old couple’s struggle to endure poverty and obsolescence nourished only by uncompromising pride and a quiet, undying love for one another. The Colonel (Fernando Pardo), a retired officer from the anticlerical Cristeros War, lives in indigence with his asthmatic Spanish wife, Lola (Marisa Paredes). Every Friday, the dignified veteran puts on his finest suit and waits solemnly at the dock for the letter announcing the arrival of his army pension. Everyone in the village, including his wife, knows that he waits in vain, yet he continues to cling to his hope of receiving the fruits of his country’s gratitude. Exacerbating the couple’s misery is the memory of their only son’s recent death and his relationship to the town hooker, Julia (Salma Hayek). To bail them out of poverty and exonerate their son’s reputation, the couple fastens their hopes upon the ability of his fighting cock to win a prize fight. Ripstein’s subtle directorial hand creates a visually rich atmosphere for Paz Alicia Garciadiego’s faithful adaptation. Combined with outstanding performances by Fernando Pardo and Marisa Paredes, No One Writes to the Colonel is an elegant and timeless cinematic achievement.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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