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:: Goya's Ghost

Goya's Ghosts is a sweeping historical epic, told through the eyes of celebrated Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgard). Set against the backdrop of political turmoil at the end of the Spanish Inquisition and start of the invasion of Spain by Napoleon’s army, the film captures the essence and beauty of Goya’s work which is best known for both the colourful depictions of the royal court and its people, and his grim depictions of the brutality of war and life in 18th century Spain.

Javier Bardem is Brother Lorenzo, an enigmatic, cunning member of the Inquisition’s inner circle who becomes infatuated with Goya’s teenage muse, Ines (Natalie Portman), when she is falsely accused of heresy and sent to prison - pronounced a Jew after turning up her nose at a pork roast. A tortured confession leaves her rotting in prison.

Bardem is marvellous as Lorenzo, and Portman expertly carries off, in effect, three roles: young Ines, post-jail Ines, and Ines’s daughter Alicia. But despite Skarsgard’s best efforts to give him colour, Goya – nominally the hero - is dramatically weak; a cipher acting as a conduit between Lorenzo and Ines.

I don’t know what story Milos Forman wanted to tell, which is the film’s biggest problem. It attempts to cover the Spanish inquisition, bits and pieces of Goya’s life and artwork, the politics of revolution, and a typical costume drama. There are a couple intense scenes that are effective, but the whole thing amounts to a waste of time for the talented people involved. Costumes are quite well done, as is set design and photography. The music leaves something to be desired. Not only is it overwhelming, but why was Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” involved in a Spanish film. It just didn’t fit in.

All in all, Goya’s Ghosts was a disappointment. Apparently, we were to see that behind the portraits of this famous artist were stories to be told. It didn't really eventuate.

DVD Extras

Theatrical trailer