Entertainment

Altamira cave drawings convinced Hugh Hudson to return to directing

Director talks about why he cast Antonio Banderas as famed archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola

Antonio Banderas stars in Finding Altamira as real-life archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, whose discovery of prehistoric cave paintings rocked the scientific world and theories of creationism.

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Antonio Banderas stars in Finding Altamira as real-life archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, whose discovery of prehistoric cave paintings rocked the scientific world and theories of creationism.

Filmmaker Hugh Hudson has been hiding in a cave ever since he released his last movie in 2000.

So what finally lured the Oscar-nominated director back out into dramatic daylight after 16 years?

Well coincidentally, it was a cave.

The Cave of Altamira to be precise.

“People in Spain know about it, but it’s a little-known story in a way,” admitted the 80-year-old filmmaking legend about Finding Altamira — his latest period drama tracing the discovery of the first cave drawings painted by prehistoric peoples.

“I thought the story was very good because of what it’s about — a miscarriage of justice really (and how it) nearly destroyed this man’s life,” explained Hudson of his desire to delve into the drama about archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, whose far-reaching finding created upheaval between the scientific and religious communities during the late 19th Century.

“For 20 years they were considered pariahs.”

Themes of justice and human rights have long played into Hudson’s work right back to his Academy Award-winning 1981 hit Chariots of Fire — an iconic film that pitted two outsiders literally running against prejudice during the 1924 Olympics.

“The institutions should be challenged all the time; they’re so often full of hypocrisy and self-serving,”
said Hudson of his tendency to tales that take on the system.

“There are so many awful things that go on in society and there’s so much dishonesty and hypocrisy that you have to try and blur it out if you can.”

With Finding Altamira, that meant finding the emotional truth in the tragic hero’s attempts to convince the public that the drawings debunked creationism.

For the filmmaker, that also meant hiring an actor who could convince audiences of his authenticity.

“I wanted Antonio (Banderas) for this because he’s a Spaniard and I think you believe in him,” said Hudson, who cast the famous film star instead of practising his predilection for using unknown actors.

“When you get into the cinema and you meet a character for the first time, if its somebody very well-known, you have to get over that barrier (but) it was good to have Antonio in it — he’s so good.”