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THE MEXICAN

About The Production (Continued)

Jerry's hunt for the legendary pistol known as "The Mexican" takes him well off the beaten path in the wilds of Mexico. Similarly, filming Jerry's mission to find the pistol took the company to the historical city of Real de Catorce, located in San Luis Potosi in the northern central highlands of Mexico. Nestled in the surrounding mountains at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet, the city is only accessible via a 15.5-mile cobblestone road that culminates with the 1 .5 mile-long Ogarrio Tunnel, a narrow, one-lane former mine shaft leading into the city.

"The only way into this town is a mile-and-a-half tunnel carved out by hard labor over a century ago," Brad Pitt describes. "You drive up this mountain range and into this tunnel, and you cannot see the end as it curves and winds. Inside is this chapel carved into the stone, and when you finally come out on the other end, it opens up to this elliptical bowl surrounded by mountains. It's just a magical place where time seems to have stood still."

Steeped in history, Real de Catorce had been a bustling silver mining town in the 19th century until the silver dried up. Many years later, it is home to a small community of 1,200 inhabitants, and remnants of its past are seen in deserted old buildings and haciendas. In the last few years, however, a number of American and European travelers have opened a few hotels and restaurants to cater to the backpacker tourists who come to visit the classic structures, ruins and old mine shafts. The city also boasts the annual festival of San Francisco that draws thousands of visitors each year.

Before the decision was made to film in Real de Catorce, the filmmakers had to weigh the many obstacles of the remote location against the advantages. There was no question that the fragility of the city's natural and urban resources, its geographic location, water limitations, lack of communication, and limited lodging posed serious hurdles. On the other hand, the governmental support, enthusiasm of the people and quaint beauty of the town were incomparable. In the end, beauty and charm won out. The rest would have to be overcome.

For two months prior to filming a team of technicians and contractors set about upgrading the city's infrastructure to allow for the needs of a major production. The plumbing, electrical and telecommunications systems were all upgraded—improvements that will help the town's tourism trade and the local residents for many years to come. A heliport was built in the city, cellular phone service was installed, and all of the city's hotels were renovated to house the cast and crew. Finally, the electrical and lighting work of the famed Ogarrio Tunnel was upgraded, making the only route in or out of the city safer for all concerned.

"We were looking for a place that hadn't been seen in a movie before," John Baldecchi explains. "The location was definitely not easy to get to and it took some work to get it ready, but it was well worth the trouble. There was so much beauty there, it was almost impossible to capture it all on film."

"Filming in Real de Catorce was a profound experience," Verbinski agrees. "We had so much fun, and the people were so nice. I would go back there in a heartbeat to shoot another movie."

Many of those local townspeople suddenly found themselves in the movie business. Some worked behind the scenes on the crew, and a number of others served as extras, or even got small speaking parts. In fact, the role of the Nobleman was played by Humberto Fernandez Tristan, one of Real de Catorce's most respected citizens, who was instrumental in helping the filmmakers navigate the challenges of filming in his city.

The Nobleman is seen in flashbacks that weave in and out of the contemporary story and relate the legend of the pistol that gives the film its name. As a variety of peop

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