Does Archive Footage make Narcos addictive?

Usha Sharma

Narcos directed by Jose Padilha, a series for Netflix is being talked about as one of the most intriguing and addictive and the most original of recent times. What makes it so interesting is that it is based on real life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The director Padilha created it from extensive research. He went through a lot of news articles and archive footage and also interviewed police officers, lawyers and civilians who had experienced the events first hand. He went through a book by James Mollison called “the memory of Pablo Escobar” which has pictures of ephemera from that time, guns hidden in bibles and many other facts which fascinated him into making this series.


He has used El chino’s (Pablo’s personal photographer) photography and pulled them out of archives and he also paid cash-in-hand for some of the footage.

“For viewers, he connects what seem like disparate events into a complex network of cause and effect.

Reality constantly disrupts fiction, as archival footage and photos are woven, often jarringly, through the plot.”1



Using real footage from the time, including a mug shot of the real Escobar, series creators Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro have fashioned a fascinating portrait of the tide of corruption that swept from South America to the US.


A TV clip of President Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy denouncing the evils of drugs (Nancy’s “Just Say No” moment) is also incorporated in the series, giving a touch of reality to the story.


The use of extensive archive footage in the starting episodes of the series, sets the base of reality in the fictional series, where the viewer can thus realize that what they are watching is not pure fiction or fantasy but something that did exist and happen in the past. This was more addictive to the viewer as they were lead by a curiosity of how such a big crime went on for such a long decade without the authorities getting a hang on how to control it.









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