El Clon (The Clone) is a Spanish-language telenovela released in 2010, produced by the U.S.-based television network Telemundo, the Colombian network Caracol Television and the Brazilian ... See full summary »
The meeting of a man with his image 20 years younger. This is the plot of O Clone. In the beggining of the story Lucas is a happy adolescent, romantic, full of projects, and he's in love with a young arabic girl: Jade. But life didn't run well for him: he separates with Jade and, during the twenty years that have passed during the novel, he's not the same thing physically, his projects are lost by the way, he has no more the tenderness, the romantic atmosphere, and the poetry of before. He's now dry by inside. Jade, in the other side, lived all this time imagining that her life would be much happier if she had married him. Twenty years later they meet again. Jade gets upset, trying to find, in the forty years old Lucas, what is left from the person she once fell in love with. That's when the clone appears, made by Lucas' godfather without his knowledge, the geneticist Albieri. The clone is not Lucas, but it is the image that Jade loved during her whole life. We have then, an uncommon ...Written by
I normally don't watch things that are dubbed into another language: It annoys me to not know whether the dubbing actor's voice matches that of the one on screen, and it also bothers me that emotional nuances of the original actors' performances could be lost in translation. I made an exception for El Clon (as it was called in the US) and I'm glad I did.
We don't normally get a look at Muslim family values in the US, and many who have not watched this excellent novela will never know the fascinating things to be learned from it. The misogyny that infects people in the fundamentalist countries is absent from the Muslim characters, who rejoice at the birth of healthy daughters and love them as much as their sons. Other issues are touched upon including the practice of FGM (not in the Qur'an and condemned by Tio Ali as an antiquated barbaric tribal practice), veiling, arranged marriages, divorce and child custody issues, the actual Muslim viewpoint on marital sex (very good news here), and inter cultural relations. Tio Ali is one of the most endearing characters in the story as the philosophical uncle of the impulsive and headstrong Jade. He attempts to get her to follow the rules for all the right reasons, but eventually understands where he went wrong in both his methods and his thinking. Tio Abdul, on the other hand, represents most things that non-Muslims fear about them in his contempt for all non-Muslims, entertainment, technology, and anything else he is unfamiliar with. He does not take advantage of what Tio Ali tells us in a late episode is the greatest gift to man: the right to think. For that reason, he sometimes rails at the ideas of others in a most annoying manner.
Related issues are presented in contrast in the larger Brazilian community as the Brazilian characters court, marry, commit adultery, move up or down socially, deal with substance abuse, and attempt to endure the slings and arrows of their own outrageous fortune. In the end we are asking ourselves whether a social structure is worth bowing to when the personal human cost is as high as the price paid by Lucas, Jade, Maysa, Said, and the people affected by their fates.
The comic relief in this series is brilliant and is sometimes expressed in small, unexpected moments. A good example is the scene in Rio where Mohamed suddenly gets hungry while seeing a man eating a sandwich on the street during Ramadan, a sight he realizes he would never see back home in Morocco. Nazira's romantic fantasies are visualized with bittersweet humor, amusing in their presentation but with a note of pity for Nazira's "old maid" status. The one story fault here is that there is no adequate explanation for her unmarried state in a culture where most people are married off in their late teens and early twenties, unless we conclude that Tio Abdul knew that she would make any husband's life miserable in the long term.
The social and ethical issues about human cloning are well-presented although not dealt with on the human level until late in the story: Does a clone have parents and who are they? How is he supposed to think of himself? What of the person whose cells were used to make the clone, especially if he did not consent to the procedure? When should the scientist pause and listen to the philosopher? What should be the legal outcome of this unprecedented situation?
Most of the noteworthy performances have been mentioned by the other reviewers, but I will add two more names to that list: Adriana Lessa as Deusa, the woman who unknowingly was the maternal guinea pig, represents every woman who wants a child and will go to any lengths to have one. She is in deep denial about the fact that there is something incredibly wrong when she gives birth to an infant who is so racially different from herself, but loves that child intensely, protecting him like a lioness with a cub. Luciano Szafir is highly memorable as the mysterious Zein. He is one of the most intriguing minor characters as the Egyptian-born Muslim who straddles both cultures socially while emotionally probably belonging more to the non-Muslim world than he thinks he does. He is the emotional flip side of Jade in addition to being the most sexually charismatic of the male characters in this story.
The entire production is visually stunning, with big-screen style images both of Brazil and Morocco, and a music soundtrack worthy of an epic film. I have the CDs and have played them many times. Did every belly dancer in Rio and Fez get a chance to appear in this series?
While Mexican novelas manipulate you emotionally, this Brazilian production makes you think. I hope the scientific community was watching.
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