Antonio Banderas To Play Pablo Picasso

33 Days tells story of Guernica mural

The last major portayal we can think of was an angry Anthony Hopkins (although more recently there was a brief turn by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo in Midnight In Paris), but it seems Pablo Picasso is about to be given more dashing form in 33 Dias (33 Days), where he'll be played by Antonio Banderas.

Where the Hopkins film, James Ivory's Surviving Picasso, covered a broad slice of the artist's life concentrating on the various women he was emotionally involved with, 33 Days' focus will be narrower. This one will only be covering just the inception and creation of Picasso's masterpiece Guernica. The film's angle is that the painting pulled Picasso out of a personal crisis, during the time of his relationship with the French artist Dora Maar.

Completed in the summer of 1937, the 25ft painting depicts a violent chaos of people and animals, and was designed to bring attention to the blitzkrieg bombing of the Basque town by Franco-supporting German forces during the Spanish Civil War. It currently lives at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, and is generally considered one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century.

33 Days, which is budgeted at 8 million euros, is written and directed by Carlos Saura (The 7th Day, Goya In Bordeaux), with legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storraro (Apocalypse Now) in talks to join the project.

The popular perception of Picasso is that he was short and bald, but if you look at pictures of Picasso in the 1930s, Banderas suddenly seems like quite canny casting. There's also the Modern Lovers song, telling us that when Picasso walked down the street, girls could not resist his stare. That alone makes Banderas seem entirely appropriate.

"He's a character that has pursued me for a long time," says Banderas. "I am from Malaga, and he was born four blocks from where I was born."

Shooting on the French and Spanish-language film starts in the summer.