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Category: Audio + Video

568. highlander 2

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander II, movie, poster

Filmed almost exclusively in Argentina, Highlander 2 might be the worst movie of all time. The general public wasn’t ready for a climate-disaster science fiction film in the 1990s, nor did they approve of making Immortals from the first movie into aliens. Sets resemble copies of Ridley Scott productions (think Alien or Blade Runner) & the special effects… well, they aren’t that special. Recoleta Cemetery gets a cameo though, so we’ll have to sit through a few minutes of footage.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie

At 1:02 in the director’s cut, Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) visits the grave of his wife, Brenda, who died from solar radiation exposure. No ozone layer = millions of deaths. A flashback scene then shows Connor at Brenda’s bedside in a makeshift hospital. Just before she dies, Brenda makes Connor promise to do something to end humanity’s suffering. End of flashback. As Connor talks to Brenda’s grave, General Katana (played by Michael Ironside) appears & congratulates Connor for talking to the dead.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie

After kissing a statue of an angel on the tomb of Virgilio M. Tedín, Connor & Katana do a bit of verbal sparring that does not turn into a fight… because their “golden rule” is not to fight on holy ground. On cue, a priest followed by a funeral procession interrupts their conversation & drives the point home:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie
Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie
Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie

Katana’s advice to Connor before disappearing is: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If you don’t take it out & use it, it’s going to rust.” His sword, that is. Connor then walks off screen.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Highlander 2, movie

Filmed in the back section of the cemetery, set designers came up with an interesting way to hide adjacent apartment buildings: tarps covered with extra plant life. Bizarre but effective. They’ve added quite a bit of greenery to the surrounding tombs as well to provide a bit of atmosphere. Otherwise we’d see windows & endless air conditioning units:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Rufino Elizalde

Brenda’s tomb —which Katana steps on & damages— is a prop set in front of the Art Deco grave of Rufino de Elizalde. Location scouts did a good job in selecting this spot… Art Deco fits in the movie’s aesthetic, & this is one of the few spots in the cemetery that has perspective. The white sculpture at the very end on the right belongs to Juan Alberto Lartigau.

Some blame the economic situation of Argentina in the early 1990s for the film’s failure. Investors took creative control of the film to save money, introduced random changes & broke continuity with the previous movie’s story. Whatever the reason, at least we have one more moment of time in Recoleta Cemetery captured on film forever.

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559. 1949 video

Beginning at time marker 12:10 & running until 13:01 –almost a full minute!– is the first video footage from 1949 of Recoleta Cemetery that we’ve seen. (Clicking play above will start the video at the proper moment.) Uploaded to YouTube by the Archivo Historic de Radio y Televisión Argentina, this video highlights the modernity of the Perón era but also fits in a quick look at Recoleta Cemetery.

Tombs & mausoleums are easily identifiable & still exist to this day… although a few have changed their appearance. Occupying the last few seconds of cemetery footage, the Unión Cívica Radical mausoleum had a multitude of plaques covering the entire obelisk:

As with the tomb of Sarmiento, plaques became so numerous that they were eventually removed & placed by the underground entrance or on the ground surrounding the obelisk:

Enjoy this rare glimpse of Recoleta Cemetery with no tourists & without Eva Perón!

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552. tertulia

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Nicolás Varchausky, Eduardo Molinari, Tertulia

Apologies for a backpost, but this audiovisual art installation took place in 2005 & we’ve only now found information about it! This blog began in 2007; however, I often went to the cemetery to guide tours & for pleasure even before then… I must have been working in Europe when this event happened. Fortunately good documentation exists online, so we can add it to our archive of cemetery events here.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Nicolás Varchausky, Eduardo Molinari, Tertulia

Nicolás Varchausky & Eduardo Molinari created this installation using sound clips taken from historic archives, augmented with other sounds from diverse sources such as animals, weapons, screams & objects. Visual effects were also necessary since this project took place at night… one of the few occasions that Recoleta Cemetery has been opened to the public after dark. The name “Tertulia” also alludes to one of the event’s goals: a dialogue or exchange of ideas based on a different way of looking at this particular physical space packed with so much history.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Nicolás Varchausky, Eduardo Molinari, Tertulia

As they wrote in a book published in 2016 —eleven years after the event— which is available in an abbreviated form for free download on Issuu:

Tertulia proposes an audiovisual exploration of a space, attempts to extract its resonances as well as its historic reflections. The projection of images (again, coming from archives & subject to technological intervention) and illumination in conjunction with a display of sound works toward a new & profound way of hear-see that, in these moments of increased effort to recover our history, is essential.”

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Nicolás Varchausky, Eduardo Molinari, Tertulia

Sound clips can be found on the project website. If anyone has photos from that evening’s event, we’d be happy to post them here!

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551. on the radio with rick steves

Coinciding with Halloween, a radio program recently debuted that I’d recorded earlier this year with Rick Steves –a popular, US-based travel pro & my employer for the past 20 years. I’ve recorded several radio shows with Rick, but this one was particularly fun. We discussed why it’s important to visit cemeteries, how Recoleta Cemetery is run & of course, shared a couple of popular legends: Rufina Cambacérès & David Alleno. Check out the first 15 minutes of program #581 on SoundCloud (linked below):

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535. blair jollands music video

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Blair Jollands

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Blair Jollands

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Blair Jollands

Blair Jollands recently filmed the music video for “I’ll Remember You” in Buenos Aires, using Recoleta Cemetery & the Jardín Japonés as shoot locations. Could this be the first time the cemetery has been used in a music video?

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518. apartment zero

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, movie, poster

Filmed in Buenos Aires in 1988, Apartment Zero features a very young Colin Firth as Adrian Leduc—a reclusive cinema buff with a mentally-ill mother. American Jack Carney, played by hunky Hart Bochner, answers a newspaper ad to share Adrian’s apartment & everyone in the building falls for him, including Adrian. Of course, no 1980s movie based in Argentina would be complete without a Dirty War subplot.

What does all this have to do with Recoleta Cemetery? When Adrian’s mother dies, she is buried there. A reader of this blog suggested I watch Apartment Zero just for the cemetery scenes… thanks for the recommendation, Manuel:

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, Colin Firth

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, Colin Firth

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, Colin Firth

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, Colin Firth

Recoleta Cemetery, Apartment Zero, Colin Firth

The tomb used in the movie was easy to identify, belonging to Álvaro Barros & family:

Recoleta Cemetery, Álvaro Barros

I’ve read that Highlander 2 used the cemetery for a single scene, but I’ve yet to find the footage. Know of any other movies filmed here? Let us know!

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