There are few figures as infamous in Mexican history as La Malinche. A young, enslaved Nahua woman, Malinche played an instrumental role in helping the Spanish conquest in Mexico, acting as a translator for Cortés in the late 16th century. In the centuries since, her story has continued to provoke spirited debates about her intentions and her legacy. To some, she remains a prime example of a traitor, having betraying her people to better her own life. Working alongside Cortés, she brokered deals and led the way for the Spanish to conquer the various indigenous tribes they encountered together. To others, she’s merely yet another victim of the culture of violence and self-preservation that guided much of the conquest in the land that is now Mexico. Seen from a feminist perspective, la Malinche’s vilification fails to understand the limited opportunities a young woman like her had during her time; her cunning has earned her many a revisionist take. So entrenched is she in the Mexican imaginary that she’s now more legend than woman.
Hoping to tell her story in all its complexity, Mexican channel Canal Once —an educational broadcast owned by Instituto Politécnico Nacional — will be debuting Malinche this month. Starring Ixcanul‘s Maria Mercedes Coroy as the titular role, the TV series will trace the story of how a young slave girl became one of the most powerful women of her time. As the trailer for the historical drama shows, Malinche will take audiences back to a time when Spanish conquistadores (in full armor gear) went up against the indigenous peoples all over the Mexican region. The Maya actress, who was most recently seen in Bel Canto alongside Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe, is here yet again portraying a silent yet assertive indigenous woman caught between two worlds and two cultures. Boasting the kind of costumes you’ve come to only see in museum exhibits and telling a story that came to define Mexican culture, Malinche promises to be both an educational and entertaining. Take a look at its full trailer below.
Malinche premieres November 10, 2018 on Canal Once