Is Netflix’s Burning Patience Based on a True Story?

Netflix’s ‘Burning Patience’ is a romantic drama film directed by Rodrigo Sepúlveda. The movie follows Mario, a poor postman from Isla Negra in Chile. After Mario meets the famous poet Pablo Neruda, he learns about the beauty of poverty. As a result, Mario aspires to become a poet and uses words to woo the woman of his dreams. The film’s period setting and conversations about poetry and politics in Chile will make viewers curious about the inspiration behind the story. If you are wondering whether ‘Burning Patience’ is based on a true story, here is everything you need to know!

Is Burning Patience Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Burning Patience’ is not based on a true story. The film is an adaptation of ‘Ardiente Paciencia’ (also known as ‘El Cartero De Neruda’), a 1983 film directed by Antonio Skármeta. The film was turned into a novel by Skármeta, first published in 1985. The book received critical acclaim and, along with the movie, is regarded as one of the best depictions of the socio-political climate in Chile leading up to the 1973 Chilean coup d’état. The original movie and its novel adaptation heavily draw from reality despite being fictional. In the book, the character of Mario is a postman who lives in Isla Negra, Chile. Although the character is fictional, Mario interacts with real-life Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda.

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Born as Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, the famous poet adopted the pen name, Pablo Neruda. He became a published poet at the age of thirteen and is considered the national poet of Chile. Later in life, he became a diplomat and also had a brief political career. As the novel depicts, Neruda indeed lived on Isla Negra during the latter years of his life. Likewise, Neruda was nominated as a candidate for the Chilean presidency in 1970. Neruda later withdrew from the election race and supported Salvador Allende, who became the President. All these events are accurately depicted in Skármeta’s original film and novel.

The novel ends before Neruda is awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. Neruda’s interactions and relationship with Mario, the postman, are reportedly fictional. While some sources state that Neruda did have a friendly relationship with his postman, it is unlikely that the original work by Skármeta is an exact depiction of said friendship. Moreover, the 2022 Netflix adaption drastically differs from the 1983 movie and subsequent novel.

In the new adaptation, Mario does meet Neruda until after he becomes a postman. Moreover, Mario’s time as a fisherman is brief, and he does not read Neruda’s poetry until after meeting the poet in person. Likewise, the scoio-politcal contexts of the story take a backseat as the film explores the romance between Mario and Beatriz.

As a result, Neruda is a supporting character, and his political career or the political instability in Chile does not receive much focus in the Netflix adaption. However, the new film keeps the essence of the original alive by carefully using metaphors to further the story and applying a poetic rhythm to the love story between Mario and Beatriz. Moreover, it retains some references to real-life events and historical figures, giving it a semblance of reality.

Ultimately, ‘Burning Patience’ is not a true story. It is a fictional story that examines the romance between two characters impacted by the works of real-life poet Pablo Neruda. Thus, the film not only explores the context and literary significance of Neruda’s works but also highlights his poems’ realistic simplicity. Additionally, references to the political instability in Chile help to elevate the narrative urgency and underline the overall impact of good literature on society.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Burning Patience Filmed?