Sean Connery in Argentina: a bumpy shoot, SIDE agents, party nights and a forgettable movie

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He traveled in 1990 to shoot Highlander 2, with Christopher Lambert. He met Carlos Menem, played golf, and went to the field, but the film was terrible.

Among human beings there are immortals, who over the centuries have been facing each other in sword duels that end when one of the two is beheaded. The winner receives the powers of the loser and continues in the quest to be the last immortal, the recipient of the final Prize. From this premise, Highlander it was a film revered by an entire generation. Over time, it became a classic from the ’80s.

While its 1986 release wasn’t quite the box office hit, it was well enough received, and the home video did hit the mark, with producers Peter Davis and William Panzer planning a sequel three years later. A chance meeting of the duo with Argentine Alejandro Sessa at the Milan International Film Market decided the setting in which it was to be filmed.

“We had the intention of coming to Argentina to make a film, but it was not defined. When we saw all these magnificent places we realized that it was the ideal place to set the scene Highlander II. It will be the most expensive film ever made in this country, ”Davis declared when announcing his plans, adding Sessa as the local co-producer.

In appearance, everything closed. Added to the Argentine geography, which provided impressive natural scenery, was the exchange rate favorable to foreigners. The strength of the dollar against the austral made everything cheaper to such an extent that producers they calculated that the film would cost them half of what it would have cost them in the United States. And the battered film industry was eager to transform itself into fertile ground for co-productions.

This is how in May 1989 the machinery of Highlander II he started. The budget would be no less than 31 million dollars, a figure that made Davis’ promise come true and doubled the budget for the first part.

Three of those millions would be taken by Sean Connery, who would come to the country for two weeks to reprise his role as Ramírez, one of the good immortals. Christopher Lambert I’d charge a million and a half to do one more time from the hero of the story, MacLeod. The ship was also boarded by Australian Russell Mulcahy, director of the first and also of another cult film, Razorback: The Destroyer.

The first problem was the script. Highlander it ended with MacLeod turned mortal after having defeated all the other immortals who had crossed his path and having won the Prize. And Ramirez had died at the hands of the evil Kurgan. How to make one immortal again and the other resurrected?

The decision of Brian Clemens, the main screenwriter who replaced the creator of everything, Gregory Widen, was to explain the origin of the immortals. They were aliens from the planet Zeist: 500 years before the events of Highlander, they had been expelled to Earth after trying to rebel against the tyrant Katana. We return to the present: it is the year 2024 and MacLeod is aging in solitude after having created, in 1999, a shield to protect the Earth from the destruction of the ozone layer.

But Katana fears that he will try to return to the planet to overthrow him, and then he sends two hitmen to assassinate him. Elder MacLeod beheads one of them, receives his power, and thus becomes young and immortal again. Immediately, he summons Ramírez and revives him.

It was clearly an unsustainable nonsense, which was even contradicted by facts from the first film.. I hated the script. We all did. Sean, Chris, I … we were all for the money. It seemed written by a 13-year-old boy. But I’d never played a barbarian swordsman, and he was my first great villain. I decided that if I was going to act in this stupid movie, I was going to have fun going as far as possible in acting, and I think I did it, ”Michael Ironside would recall years later, who played the evil Katana.

So the base was missing. And everything kept getting complicated: as recounted in the documentary Highlander 2: Seduced by Argentina (2004), “Take it with soda” was one of the first phrases in Spanish that the technicians learned of the different departments (scenography, costumes, makeup and others) arrived for the shooting. They found that there was a lot of kindness and predisposition here, but the preparation was light years from Hollywood.

The country’s economy as well. They were times of hyperinflation, and for three weeks pre-production had to stop for “economic and financial reasons”, as explained in a press release. Anyway, through thick and thin in January 1990 activities were resumed, which among other challenges included the construction of a futuristic city in Puerto Madero, which was then a semi-abandoned port area.

Other settings were the Abasto market, which had not yet become a shopping mall; the Colón Theater, whose façade appears with a horrible neon sign that reads “Opera”; the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes on Córdoba Avenue; the subway line E, where a massacre at the hands of Katana takes place, aboard a train that goes at a very high speed, which the long-suffering users would like.

The Valley of the Moon, in San Juan, was the ideal place to film the action that took place on the planet Zeist. The Baires studios in Don Torcuato were also used: this is how the final duel begins in the same setting as one of the scenes in Las Puertitas del Señor López. Another Buenos Aires detail in the film are the black and yellow taxis.

On Saturday, May 5, 1990, the country was shocked by the news that Sir Sean Connery, the mythical James Bond, had landed in Ezeiza on a Pan Am flight. He had a bumpy arrival, because the airport was closed by fog and he had to lose three hours with a detour to Montevideo, but then he would make up for that setback with all kinds of pleasures.

During the two weeks that his stay in the country lasted, the Scotsman had SIDE agents as personal custody. He interviewed Carlos Menem; he played golf three times with Roberto De Vicenzo, whom he had the luxury of beating; visited the Perito Moreno glacier; went to see a River-Estudiantes de La Plata. And, as narrated in the book Gaucho babylon, by Diego Curubeto, he did not lack female company in your luxurious suite at the Alvear Palace Hotel.

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