The renowned actor Benicio del Toro will become the infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the upcoming movie ‘Paradise Lost,’ written and directed by Andrea di Stefano. To what extent del Toro will play a convincing Escobar remains to be seen. At the very least, ‘Paradise Lost’ is yet another recent production portraying the Colombian drug trafficker. Over two decades after Escobar’s death, his life remains captivating to the masses.
The plot of di Stefano’s newest movie does not focus on Escobar himself, though he is obviously a prominent character. The film largely centers on a young American who travels to Colombia and falls in love with a young Colombian woman, whose uncle turns out to be Escobar. From the short teaser, del Toro seems to be portraying Escobar as a ruthless drug lord without much of a humane side.
As previously mentioned, this is not the first time that Escobar’s life has been adapted to either a movie or a TV series. In 2012, Caracol TV, a Colombian television station, produced a soap opera entitled ‘Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal’ (‘Pablo Escobar: The Drug Lord’).
Additionally, the drug lord’s son,Sebastian Marroquin(he changed his name after his father’s demise), is also profiting from his father’s legacy. Marroquin’s clothing line,Poder Poder, produces clothes that prominently display Escobar’s image, like t-shirts with Escobar’s birth certificate or his arrest warrant.
Other projects that discuss Escobar’s life include the 2009 documentary ‘Pecados de mi Padre’ (‘Sins of my Father’), which includes interviews with his son Sebastian, and Escobar’s widow Maria Isabel Santos. Escobar’s life and death was also reviewed in the 2001 bookKilling Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw, an in-depth analytical biography of the Colombian criminal by the renowned author Mark Bowden. In his book, Bowden discuses Escobar’s life, from his childhood to how he became the leader of the infamous Medellin Cartel in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Escobar finally met his end during a raid on one of his safe houses by the Colombian police in 1993. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that there are theories that the U.S., which at the time provided Colombian security agencies with financial and technical aid to crack down on drug trafficking and stop Escobar, may have been behind the Colombian’s death. (Moreover, anew book by Diego Murillo, an imprisoned Colombian drug lord, claims that his brother shot Escobar)
In a 2012 report entitled “Violent Threads: From Routine Murder to High Fashion” for theCouncil on Hemispheric AffairsI discussed Poder Poder’s potential ramifications on how Escobar is remembered today. In the aforementioned report I point to how new generations of Colombians are presently growing up without having suffered through years of “Escobar-authored terrorism.” They have not had to read daily news reports about the assassinations of politicians, police officers and journalists that occurred as a result of his orders. With that said, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the initiatives that the drug lord carried out in his native Antioquia (a northern department in Colombia) to help the local population, like building football fields and electric towers.
Producing a film or TV series about a real-life individual is always tricky, particularly a criminal as controversial as Pablo Escobar. We still have to wait a few months to see how Benicio del Toro portrays the deceased drug lord in ‘Paradise Lost.’ While some of the characters of this movie are fictional, Escobar was a very real individual andhis legacywill continue to have a profound effect on Colombia for years to come.