Brilliant painter Francisco de Goya, considered by many to be the most important artist of the modern era, reflects on his turbulent career and tempestuous relationships during the decline of Spain and a bloody war of inde... more »pendence, while living out his final days in exile.« less
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 05/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie by Carlos Saura is an ambitious attempt at recreating the life of celebrated Spanish artist, Francisco Goya. The cinematography is spell binding as the artists works are recreated masterfully, only to be matched by the magnificent time period recreation. The acting is very good, good enough to garnish a Goya(Spanish equivilent of an Oscar) for leading actor and actress. Veteran actor Francisco Rabal, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Goya and Maribel Vernu as Cayetana, the Dutchess of Alba, both won a Goya for their performances. If all this reference to Goya is confusing it is because I'm laying the foundation for the problem with this movie. The story of Goya is told to his daughter through a series of flashbacks that are at times very perplexing. It is not so much that they are confusing but that no explanation is given to the circumstances of Goya's life. Saura makes the leap that everyone knows about Goya rather than explaining. Maybe everyone in Spain knows about Goya but not all viewers are Spanish. It helps to be up on your Spanish history prior to viewing to understand the political nature of the times and the reason for his self imposed exile to Bordeaux in his later years. I did some reading afterwards but it would have been better to know the why before viewing. Anyway the sets and lighting are works of art in themselves as the paintings and walls in one sequence come to life. These hallucinations are part of the torment that Goya suffers and is reflected in his art. Some insights are given into the life of Goya but it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Goyas mixing in the royal court and hob nobing with the rich and famous are perfect backdrops for his cavorting with Cayetana. Saura has created a work of art in his homage to one of Spains master painters. Goya's life and death, as represented in this film, is the end of an era linked to Velasquez and the birth of modern art in Spain. Recommended for art enthuisists with deep pockets."
Indeed, a masterpiece
Linda McDougall | Guanajuato, Mexico | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After seeing this film twice at the Vancouver Film Festival, visiting from my home in Mexico, I could hardly wait to own it, even though it was only available in VHS. I find it fascinating and disturbing that Saura's masterpiece, as non-linear and right-brained as any great work of art, should be maligned by critics such as Roger Ebert, and others. Here's to those who've written their praise for the film on these pages!
This is extraordinary creation, a fusion of both outer and inner realities that the logical mind cannot grasp - and why must it? Does it really matter what happened factually to Goya? Aren't those fiery skies and the music of Boccherini, reflecting the fire and brimstone in Goya's mind, enough to tell us that the film is mythic? Shakespeare did the same thing with his tragic heroes because the Elizabethans and the alchemists believed in "as above, so below". Macbeth's turmoil is reflected in the storms outside, and the bloody battles raging around him. Yet that's fiction and we believe this world is reality..
I buy few films, and I cherish this one. I'm still longing for "Providence" to come out on DVD because Resnais interweaves life and art from the same perspective...an old man, a writer, dying among his living, breathing creations. I live in an Mexico's oldest city, on a street named "Cinco de Mayo" Every day I'm reminded of Goya's painting, and this film is shown at least once a month on TV because the Mexicans love it - the Latin world has no problem suspending reality in the name of art - which is why Andre Breton called Mexico the ultimate surrealism. Thank you Saura, once again."
Life of Goya (an Epic)
M. A. Ramos | Florida USA | 10/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Carlos Saura, one of the finest and most distinctive filmmakers in the Spanish cinema, wrote and directed this biographical epic concerning one of Spain's greatest artists, the painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. On his deathbed, Goya, attended by his mistress, Leocadia and their daughter, Rosario, is plagued by hallucinations and frequent visions of the beautiful Cayetana as his mind reels through the events of his life. As a young man, Goya became the court painter to King Charles and the Royal Family, where he created technically skillful but uninteresting portraits and was invited to a number of royal functions. At one such affair, Goya first met Cayetana, the Duchess of Alba, and he was immediately smitten; they became lovers, and she was both the subject and inspiration of several major works, including "Desnuda" and "La Maja Vestida." Goya's work developed a dark undercurrent after Napoleon invaded Spain and he took up with Leocadia, creating disturbing images that alienated his patrons and frightened his children. In time, the decline of the court and a changing political climate forced Goya to seek exile in France in 1824, where he would die four years later. Goya In Bordeaux was a project that Saura had dreamed of filming for years, and he was ably assisted in recreating the look of Goya's paintings by master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro."
Exquisite work of art
M. A. Ramos | 04/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A meditation on Goya's life, the ghosts that visit him in old age, and his universal legacy to art.This movie is unlike conventional films. The choreography between music and image is breathtaking. It is an exquisite blend of theater, dance, pantomime, music and painting. The attention to detail is truly impressive: Goya's technique, his preoccupations, the costumes, music, courtly politics, historical setting and color palette. It depicts with admirable economy 19th century Spain and its character, as that fascinating blend of turnmoil and fury, glory and beauty.Francisco Rabal is astonishing as Goya, his face a geographical self-portrait in itself. A rock of a man, rugged, provincial, unsophisticated, yet commanding an undeniable presence and a primitive virility, possessing a hyper-developed imagination and sensitivity. This is not easy to pull off by an actor, but Rabal *is* Goya. Goya is a profoundly masculine painter, yet women are never estranged in his art, neither excessively revered, nor resented and reduced. His taste for them, and their influence on him, is keenly felt. In the movie the painter reminisces on his affair with the indomitable Duchess of Alba, speculating that this was the great love of his life. A man capable of loving many women, and in many ways, we see the contrast with his last motherly wife. The director also recreates a tender relationship between the almost-ancient Goya and his young daughter, taking her fisrt teetering steps into adulthood. Near-death, Goya's mind is still as active as ever, but we sense that facing mortality has softened his edges. Conscience and guilt, the Duchess, have come to demand their dues. Carlos Saura's obvious love and admiration for his subject are contagious. When the movie was over, I felt more like I had been to a gorgeous live art performance than to the local movie theater. I had never seen anything like it, and I loved every second."
An Exploration on the Role of the Artist in Society
M. A. Ramos | 11/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Saura's newest film follows in the tradition of , and his most recent film . All explore the role of the artist as within society. is no exception. The film features Francisco Rabal, now the elderly Goya, who recounts his life to his young daughter in a series of artistic flashbacks, many of which cross the boundaries of time and space. Integral to the plot are his recollections of his affair with Cayetana, the famed Duchess of Alba, and who torments his thoughts throughout the course of the film bringing an element of reality to the artist's sometimes surreal world, a world where Goya's paintings serve as backdrops to illustrate the historical period. In addition, unusual lighting and music contribute to the film's artistic flare, all blending into a lush and virtual feast for the eyes. I truly enjoyed this creative experiment. It is a must for Saura fans and for those who enjoy Spanish art and history."