Friday, May 19, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Goya's Ghosts

I haven't ever blogged about famous Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, I but last week we saw a movie with Goya as a pivotal character. A loose, mainly fictionalised story of one part of the painter's life is told in Goya's Ghosts - now available on Netflix.

Goya's Ghosts, a 2006/7 film, was co-written and directed by Milos Forman (famous for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, among other movies.) Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård and Randy Quaid are main characters. The film's story centres, not entirely on Goya's artistry, though that is a facet in the storyline; at the story's heart is the utter cruel inhumanity and injustice of The Spanish Inquisition (that thing that nobody expected!) Wink.

A local beauty, played by Natalie Portman, frequent model used by Goya, is one day hauled in front of church dignitaries to answer for the reason she refused to eat pork, part of the menu at a local tavern. She responds that she doesn't like pork's taste - a reply that meets with little acceptance. She is taken away for torture and ends up incarcerated in filthy, horrible conditions for the next 15 years, on the pretext that she adheres to Judaism. She descends into madness, for reasons I'll not reveal.

The film's main baddie, apart from leading church dignitaries who tortured and incarcerated the girl, is a priest called Lorenzo - a 24 carat hypocrite if ever there was one. I'll not spoil the tale any further.

We enjoyed the film, it's a quality production with excellent acting by all.
Interesting piece about Goya's Ghosts, at Time Magazine, by Richard Schickel.

In Milos Forman's film (which he co-wrote with Jean-Claude Carriere, the great French screenwriter, perhaps most famous for his collaborations with Luis Bunuel) Goya's escapist politics is another sign of his modernism. The great artists of the 20th Century sympathized with "progressive" causes, but rarely played a heroic role in them. But the entire film is less an exercise in historicism (though the portrait of the painter is accurate enough, as is the depiction of historical events, the story is pure fiction) than it is an elaborate analogy with our own times. This is quite understandable — Forman lost his parents to the Nazi concentration camps and came of age in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, and he has long needed to address the issues that shaped his life in a movie. .............
In his last paragraph he writes
What I found myself thinking about, curiously enough, was Les Miserables. Whether you steal some bread or casually decline a slice of pork, in certain situations terrible consequences can ensue from such seeming inconsequences — not to mention a narrative of epic proportions.
Yes, I also thought about the first part of Ben Hur - the accidental fall of a tile sent Judah Ben Hur to the galleys.


Francisco de Goya. Self portrait.

For any passing astrology fan, Goya's natal chart is at Astrodatabank, HERE. As well as painting portraits, in later life he produced some much darker stuff, no doubt echoes of The Inquisition, as well as depicting the horrors of war.

For a look at some of his work, a good place to begin is Google Image, HERE.

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