I couldn't possibly rate this film.

Goya's Ghosts (R)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Samuel Goldwyn Films; Sony Pictures; StudioCanal; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; iTunes

Caution: spoilers.

At first, I thought this was the kind of movie designed to make me hate the Spanish Inquisition... which isn't a hard thing to do. But by the end, it seemed more like the kind of movie designed to make me think history is just fucked up in general. Which also isn't hard to do. Anyway, there's this painter named Francisco Goya, in 1792 in Spain, who's pretty famous. One of the people he paints is a guy named Brother Lorenzo, who is part of the Inquisition. Another person he paints is a girl named Ines Bilbatúa (Natalie Portman). He's also painting the queen of Spain. Um... so, Lorenzo basically gets the Holy Office to go back to doing things old school... restoring old traditions of the Inquisition that had been abandoned. This is basically in response to some of the prints Goya has been making that depict the Inquisition in a negative light. (The logic seems to be "the people must hate us because we're too lenient," or something.) And as part of the renewed fervor of the Inquisition, Ines gets arrested for not eating pork. Her reason is that she doesn't like the taste, but according to the Inquisition, it must be because she's a Jew. Which she's not. Let's just set aside for the moment the fact that people shouldn't be tortured based on their religion, and concentrate instead on the fact that people should not be falsely accused of stuff and tortured for that. Really, the big issue here is the idea that if someone confesses to something, under torture, they must be guilty, because if they were innocent, God would give them the strength to continue denying the accusation. Which is clearly bullshit, because that's not how God rolls, even if it would be nice if He did. But people like Lorenzo clearly believe that He does.

So, in my most favoritest scene in the movie, Ines's father, Tomás, a wealthy patron of the arts who happens to be a friend of Goya's, gets the artist to arrange a meeting between him and Lorenzo. It seems pleasant enough at first, but then Tomás traps Lorenzo in his home, and tortures him, to get him to sign a confession that is patently absurd. This I loved. (I did think, "Well, it only works if he actually signs..." but he did, so, it worked. In theory.) He wants Lorenzo to get Ines out of prison, and Lorenzo tries, but he can't. So Tomás presents the confession to the king, whose help he wants. And of course, he gets no help. Instead, Lorenzo gets thrown out of the Holy Office, and becomes a fugitive. This bothers me, because the Holy Office has incontrovertible proof that one of their beliefs is false. It's not like they can say, "Oh, he confessed, so it must be true," because what he confessed to is impossible. Nevertheless, they can't admit this belief is untrue. They just can't. Hence... I have no choice but to hate the damn Church. I don't care how deeply religious you are, you can't watch this movie and not hate the Church. Maybe not the Church of today, but of 1792? Hell yeah.

Anyway, the movie then flashes forward 15 years. The French Revolution had just begun before the flashforward, and now it's in full swing. The French army of Napoleon come to Spain, expecting to be welcomed by the people, who they are "liberating," but of course that's not how it plays out. Which is understandable, because the French soldiers in this movie are pretty much assholes, themselves. But at least they remove the Inquisition, and release all their prisoners. Including Ines. And she has clearly gone insane. Meanwhile, Goya has gone deaf. And Lorenzo has gone French. He's now married, with children, and he's become some important guy in the Revolution, having understandably abandoned all his old beliefs. And Ines finds that her family are all dead, so she goes to Goya for help. It seems she had a baby while in prison- Lorenzo's baby- and now she wants to find her. But while her daughter, Alicia (also played by Portman) is now a teenage prostitute, Ines, being insane, expects her to still be a baby. And... eventually, the British invade Spain, and the Inquisition gets restored. Did I mention that all of history is fucked up? I'm not sure how closely this movie adheres to true history, but I suppose it must be close enough. Not with the specific characters, but the basic political situations... it's all freaking crazy. The kind of movie that reminds me why I am incapable of understanding the human race.

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