A unique movie about the builders of the Alhambra in Spanish cinemas

by Lorraine Williamson
alhambra the movie

RANADA – Anyone who has ever admired the Alhambra with their own eyes not only from the outside but also from the inside, knows how unique this structure is and what masterful skills the builders must have had. From tomorrow November 25, everyone can enjoy the wonders of the Alhambra in a new movie.

The backgrounds of those builders, their skills and their motives for creating this architectural work of art also fascinated director Isabel Fernández. The result of this fascination and the subsequent unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration is a film. ‘The builders of the Alhambra’, movie can be seen in Spanish cinemas from 25 November. The film crew even got unique shooting access in the world-famous building in the southern Spanish city of Granada. 

Travel through space and time 

Based on the chronicles of the 14th century written by the vizier and poet of the king of Granada Ibn al-Jatib, director Isabel Fernández immerses the viewer in a journey through space and time to discover the characters responsible for the construction of the Alhambra Palaces. Granada Digital describes it as “an astral and poetic journey exploring the architectural and philosophical significance of one of the most iconic buildings in the world.” 

Unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration 

Production on the documentary started a year ago and the release date has finally been announced: November 25 in theatres. 

The script, written by the director himself along with Margarita Melgar, has received the scientific support of the best experts from the Board of Trustees of La Alhambra, the University of Granada and the School of Arabic Studies of the CSIC, in an unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration. 

Rare shots inside the building 

It is the first time that Alhambra has allowed recordings of the category of this film documentary to be made. The building complex is known as the most restrictive Spanish building when it comes to filming permission. 

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To film indoors, the production had to design a shooting plan that was completely adapted to the requirements of such a special location, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List under extremely strict conditions. 

The story 

The story follows Yusuf I, the sultan of Granada. His besieged kingdom of Granada is doomed to disappear with the advance of neighbouring kingdoms. Therefore, he embarks on the construction of a building that reflects the splendour of his civilisation and defies oblivion. The palaces of the Alhambra. His vizier, Ibn al-Khatib (Amr Waked), a poet and genius ahead of his time, takes part in this colossal challenge. The sultan’s son, Mohammed V, inherits the throne and involves him in his government’s new policies. However, the crosshairs are torn between the ideas of his old world and the new one emerging. The chronicles tell the viewer the history of Granada in the 14th century. 

Amr Waked as Ibn al-Jatib 

The international star, French-Egyptian actor Amr Waked (“Syriana”; “Salmon Fishing in Yemen”; “Lucy”) brings to life the protagonist Ibn al-Jatib, a fundamental figure in the Iberian Peninsula in the 14th century, author from the ‘Chronicle of the Kings of Granada’ – Also the first-hand voice that tells the secrets of the Alhambra. 

Complementing other actors of North African descent such as Sofian Benaissati (“The Daughter”; “Giants”), Farah Hamed Ali (“Elite”; “The Last Days”), or Adil Koukouh (“Entrevías”; “El Cid”) this story is from the time when Andalucia was one of the most advanced centres of knowledge in Europe. 

Origin of the Alhambra movie project 

The director Isabel Fernández explains the origins of the project. She said, “I have always been fascinated by the Islamic heritage in Europe. And especially the Alhambra, which is his masterpiece. It is amazing how little has been said about this part of history. That’s why, six years ago, I decided to immerse myself in the history of Granada. I wanted to try to understand the significance of this building that fascinates everyone. 

This amazing story of its origin needed someone to tell it. My wish is for it to make people think about a fundamental part of who we are and to justify the weight of Al-Andalus in the genesis of European culture. 


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