Los Borgia (The Borgias) (2006)
Director: Antonio Hernández.
Starring: Roberto Álvarez (Burkard), Eloy Azorín (Jofré Borgia), Linda Batista (Sancha de Aragón), Marco Bocci (Pedro Bembo), Antonio Dechent (Michele Corella), Francesca Della Ragione (Domiziana), Roberto Enríquez (Paolo Orsini), Fabio Grossi (Cardenal Rafaele Riario), Antonio Hernández (Cardenal Gianbatista Orsini), Lluís Homar (Rodrigo Borgia), Lucía Jiménez (María Enríquez), Giorgio Marchesi (Alfonso de Aragón), Diego Martín (Perotto), Ángela Molina (Vanozza), Carlotta Montanari (Dancer), Sergio Múñiz (Juan Borgia), Miguel Ángel Muñoz (Ramón), Esther Ortega (Isabella), Sergio Peris-Mencheta (César Borgia), Eusebio Poncela (Cardenal Giuliano della Rovere), Katy Louise Saunders (Giulia Farnese), Javier Tolosa (Gonzalo de Córdoba), Federico Torre (Macellaio), Benedetta Valanzano (Pentesilea), Antonio Valero (Cardenal Ascanio Sforza), María Valverde (Lucrecia Borgia), Massimo Vanni (Soldier), Paz Vega (Caterina Sforza), Enrique Villén (Savanarola).
Spanish film with English subtitles about the Borgia family
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"At the end of the XV century Italy did not exist as a State. Families governed the different provinces keeping a very difficult balance between them. At the shadow of France and Spain the Vatican's influence was decisive in the order of the Christian world."
Cesare Borgia, The Duke of Valentinois, holds his helmet by his right side. He comes outside and is announced to the clerics. The Duke kisses the ring of the Pope's right hand. The Pope tells him to join his forces with those of the Spanish and go against the French.
The Duke and some of his men ride to the arranged meeting place, but there is no army awaiting him. This makes him very mad. A large group of men now ride into the courtyard and a spokesman says the Duke of Valentinois is under arrest for the murder of his brother, Juan Borgia, Duke of Gandia. The man who arrests the Duke says he is Gonzalo de Cordova and gets his orders from Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon and by request from Pope Julius II (in office from 1503 to 1513). The Duke will be imprisoned in Spain. The Duke is thrown into a prison cell.
Flashback. Rome, twelve years ago. Three men of the Borgia family walk through the streets of Rome. Cesar Borgia seems to be the leader of the group. They are going by way of Saint Ignatius Square. But that's the turf of the Orsini family. And they do run into some of the males of that family. They soon start hurling insults at each other. Cesar does a lot of damage to the Orsinis. He wants to bash Paolo in the head but one of his own family tells him not today.
Cesar and the others to go to hear the announcement that Rodrigo Borgia has been elected the next Pope, and will be known as Alexander VI. The Pope's private secretary tells Juan Borgia that the Pope wants to see all his children. Cesar goes to get Lucrezia. Juan and Jofre meet with their father. Now Lucrezia and Cesare arrive. The Pope tells his children that he has waited 30 years for the arrival of this day. He also says that Rome will belong to the Borgia's . The families that rejected them as foreigners (the Orsini, Caetani and Colonna families) will now have to respect the Borgias. He plans to be a very strict Pope. The excesses of the clergy and the nobility will be curbed and punished. The enemies of the Borgias have their hands cut off or are thrown in jail and tortured. Others are burned at the stake.
Two years later. The Pope has his favorite, the pretty Giulia, to sit as the model for a painting of the Virgin Mary. Now Cardinal Cesar Borgia comes in. He tells his father that this clergy thing is not for him. He doesn't want to be a cardinal. He wants to be a soldier, a leader of men. His father reminds me that it's here in the Vatican where great fortunes are built.
Juan Borgia arrives and the pope goes over the military situation facing the Vatican. To their north, most of the land is controlled by Sforza of Ludovico The Moor. To the south the Aragonese in Naples dominate. Father says that they have to make important political alliances. Juan's marriage to the Duchess of Gandia has provided a good relationship with Isabella of Castile and Fernando of Aragon. Dad says they will marry Lucrezia to relatives of the Milan Sforza, to Giovanni Sforza. Cesar protests that Giovanni is half a bastard, a no one. Dad points out that the man is the nephew of Sforza of Ludovico. And for Naples Jofre will marry Sancha of Aragon, daughter of Alfonso. Cesar thinks he got the short stick in this game of marriage alliances. Dad tells him basically to stay where he is for now.
Lucrezia comes to speak with Cesar, who complains to her that he is not cut for a life devoted to the church. Lucrezia says that they must obey their father since he knows what's best for the family. Cesar gets angry and leaves the room.
A big outdoor meal is had with the Borgias and the Sforzas as Lucrezia is married into the Sforza family. Juan sees a beautiful woman come to the party. He asks Cesar who is that and he says she is Sancha of Aragon and she's with her brother Alfonso. Cesar reminds Juan that Sancha of Aragon will be Jofre's wife. Jofre introduces Sancha to his two brothers. Juan asks her to dance with him and she accepts. Later the pope and other clergy watch as Giovanni Sforza consummates the marriage with Lucrezia.
The pope welcomes Captain Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, who will be advising and helping Juan Borgia, who is the head of the Vatican army. Their first target will be the castle of Braccia. The pope tells Juan to remind the Orsini family that they must show deference to Pope Alexander VI.
Juan camps with his men for the night. All of a sudden enemy soldiers descend on the camp. The two sides battle each other with great fierceness.
Meanwhile, Cesar is having sex with a beautiful woman -- namely his sister-in-law Sancha of Aragon.
Juan Borgia survives the attack on the camp, but he is one of the few who do. He makes his way back to report to his father. Juan says they were completely taken by surprise and had no time to react. In fact, it was a slaughter. Guidobaldo is being held for ransom. The pope wants to pay the ransom of 3,000 gold coins. Cesar volunteers to take the ransom to the enemy.
Cesar gets Guidobaldo back. He then goes to visit his sister saying that he will have her marriage annulled. Cesar is thinking of killing her husband. The husband has to go because he would never support the Borgia cause in Naples. Lucrezia says she does not want the family to kill her husband.
Cesar is saying goodbye to his mother when Jofre comes riding up on his horse. The fellow is drunk and falls off the horse. He is looking for his wife Sancha. He calls Sancha a whore and says that she looks for someone other than a Borgia, because everybody hates the Borgias. His mother tells him to stop drinking and "Don't confuse love with marriage." Mother leaves the room. Jofre tells Cesar that Sancha is sleeping with Juan.
At night Lucrezia tells her husband that he must leave. "They're going to kill you." Her husband begs Lucrezia to tell her family not to kill him.
In the morning, the pope awakens. He has Giulia with him in bed. She says she will go, but her husband will bring her back later. At his duties Lucrezia comes in to tell her father that he is wrong to blame her for her husband fleeing. He doesn't believe her, so she says then he should punish her. The pope says: "You take advantage of how much I love you." He kisses her lightly on the mouth.
Cesar and his aide watch brother Juan's house and see for themselves that Sancha, holding a large mask over her face, goes there. Cesar follows Sancha into the house. Sancha goes into Juan's bedroom and they have sex (brief nudity). After Sancha leaves, Cesar goes in to tell Juan that the family is tired of his stupidity. Someone could find out about his affair with his sister-in-law.
Her father tells Lucrezia that she is now free. Her marriage has been annulled. Dad tells her now she can choose another husband. Lucrezia looks sad and tells her dad she would be happy if she could actually choose her next husband. Dad says that she is a Borgia and has to support the cause of the Borgias by marrying strategically. While he is looking for the right man for her, she will have to stay at a convent. This makes Lucrezia really angry and she storms out. He goes after her and tells her it will only be for a while to show her grief over the loss of her marriage. He says she will have her lady-in-waiting with her, as well as Mr. Perotto, who is a Spanish writer and poet. Lucrezia resigns herself to going.
Cardinal Orsini welcomes Juan Borgia to his house. He is having a huge dinner party and Juan arrives a little late because everyone is already seated at the table. A man sitting at the table openly insults Juan by calling him a coward. Juan starts to protest, but the stranger tells him his name is Felipe Brancaccio, a friend to Giovanni Sforza. Juan leaves the table and Felipe shouts to him: "Or are you going to sleep with your sister like your father and brother do?" As Juan walks out the door, the dinner guests applaud Felipe's remarks.
Juan tells the pope about what happened. Cesar is angry that Juan said nothing back to this Brancaccio. Dad says they must think of some response, but Cesar says no, he wants an immediate response. Cesar and his men ride up to the Sforza stronghold. He gets off his horse and yells: "Who is Felipe Brancaccio?" Felipe steps out and Cesar nods to his aide. His aide approaches Felipe when two of Cesar's men grab Felipe from behind. They force Felipe to the ground and the aide castrates the man. Cesar brings the testicles to his father and brother Juan and throws the wrapped-up testicles before the pope.
In the convent, the lady-in-waiting tells Lucrezia that the poet desires her. Lucrezia says no, but the lady-in-waiting says she has seen him watching her. So Lucrezia pretends to faint and goes to the courtyard floor. Pretto rushes to her and sweeps her up. He carries her to her bed. There he studies her face intently. The lady-in-waiting closes the outer door and Lucrezia grabs the poet's head and forces it downward, as she raises her head upward, to kiss Perotto.
At Mother Borgia's house Jofre makes a scene and walks out. Mother gets upset and leaves. Now the two other brothers leave the table. They ride their horses and talk. Juan says that Alfonso of Aragon is Sancha's brother, a Neapolitan noble, who is a favorite of the King of Naples. If Sancha's brother could marry Lucrezia, he would become the King of Naples.
The pope is given the news that Juan has been killed. Cesar rides out to investigate. He asks one of Juan's men, who is dying of his wounds, where is his brother, but the man cannot talk. Cesar goes to see his father. He hears someone telling the pope that it looks like Juan was ambushed. The fellow leaves and the pope cries asking God, why his boy? Why his boy? Cesar leaves his father alone.
Juan's body is found floating in a river. The body is brought in for burial. The pope says his son's death is a curse from God for his own sins. He adds that they need to repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. He goes on to say that now that Juan is gone his plans are over. "Everything is useless." Cesar tells his father not to say these things. Dad says that people are saying that Cesar killed Juan. Cesar tells his father that if he really believes that he killed his own brother, then he should be killed too. The pope says nothing. Then Cesar asks dad to let him take revenge on their enemies.
Lucrezia and Perotto lay in bed. She says that she received a letter from Cesar saying he is resigning and going to France. She adds: "I'm going to lose them all."
One year later. Cesar is back in Rome. Sancha comes to see him. He pulls down her blouse and grabs her breasts. They start having sex. Cesar stops when she says that Lucrezia is now to marry her brother Alfonso.
Cesar is with the pope. Dad tells him that the Spanish kings don't love the Borgias any more. And he wants Cesar to marry soon. The pope orders Cesar to bring Lucrezia back from the convent.
Cesar comes to the convent and knocks on the door. He bullies his way in and over to Lucrezia. Does he ever get a shock! Lucrezia is around 8 months pregnant. Cesar is not happy. He confronts Perotto who says he loves Lucrezia and would like to marry her. Perotto and Lucrezia are brought to see the pope. Perotto alone goes in to explains what happened to Lucrezia, Cesar runs his sword through Perotto's body. The pope gets blood on his white uniform. Cesar says to the pope: "You think, I execute." Dad now absolves his son of his bloody deed.
The pope talks with Lucrezia. She tells him that she loved Perotto. Lucrezia asks about her lady-in-waiting. Her body was found floating in the Tiber River. Lucrezia is shocked, looks at her father intently and then leaves.
Paolo Orsini speaks with his uncle and brother. He tells them that he does not want to fight under the Borgia banner. The uncle says they will fight under the papal banner. Paolo responds that the papal banner is the Bogia banner. Dad tells the impatient Paolo (the one who killed Juan Borgia) that they must keep their enemies close to them.
The pope marries Lucrezia and Alfonso. After the wedding Cesar and dad participate in still another orgy. (brief nudity) Dad gives Cesar a sword that he had made special for Cesar. Cesar is pleased. Now the pope tells him that he wants to make a kingdom for the Borgias. It will be Cesar's job to make the leaders of central Italy bow to the pope. Cesar says it won't be easy because each leader has a castle and an army. The pope says the leaders are tyrants, hated by their people. Cesar will be received as a savior by the liberated peoples.
Cesar is shown killing men in battle with his new sword.
The pope has written to the leaders of central Italy that the Holy Church now takes back their rights and dominions. A cardinal tells Countess Caterina Sforza that Cesar wants to be the Duke of Romagna. Caterrina decides to take a trip to see the Borgias.
The pope gives his blessings and sends Cesar out to smite those who do not follow the mandates of the church. Lucrezia presents Cesar a present of a helmet like that worn by Julius Cesar. They kiss each other on the lips for a long time.
Two messengers of Caterina Sforza arrive to see the pope. The pope is busy examining his new grandson, the son of Lucrezia and Alfonso, but he has to make time for the messengers. The messengers bring a gift of a crucifix forged especially for the pope in Forli. Then they want to hand to the pope some letters from the Countess. Burkard intervenes and smells the letters. He calls for the guards to grab the messengers. The letters are poisoned! The pope is furious and wants Cesar to immediately take the kingdoms of Forli and Imola. He wants his son to finish that "bitch" off.
Cesar's men are pounding the gates of a castle with a battering ram. They break through and soon enough they break into the room holding the countess. Caterina stands on top of a table ready to fight with a sword in hand. Cesar's men push forward through the guards to get at Caterina. Caterina jumps down and joins the fight, but she is knocked down by one of Cesar's men. She tries to get back up, but this time she is knocked unconscious.
When she awakens Cesar says that he saved her life because his men were ready to dismember her. Cesar takes her to see the pope.
Cesar and his sister "flirt" with each other and Cesar even lifts her into the air. Alfonso comes into the room and asks Cesar to put his wife down. Lucrezia tells Alfonso that Cesar was just playing around. In front of Cesar, he grabs his wife and gives her a passionate kiss. Cesar says he will see Lucrezia at the party. He leaves. Lucrezia asks her husband why does he act like this around Cesar? Alfonso says that Cesar hates him as he hates his whole family. He even says that Cesar killed her brother Juan. Lucrezia doesn't believe that. She says they think badly of her family because they cannot defeat the Borgias.
The Borgias are having another party, complete with nude dancers. Cardinal della Rovere presents the Ambassador of Florence to the pope. When the pope gets a brief moment of quiet, he tells Cesar next to him that they no longer need the Aragons.
At night Cesar grabs Caterina from behind and kisses her neck. He asks her what is she thinking and she says she's thinking of the time she will be released. Cesar says she can go at any time, but for now he wants her to be his other half. Caterina says he will never have the real Caterina.
Late at night Alfonso is ambushed by Cesar's men led by Miguel again. Alfonso is hit by a sword. They take him to his bed. Lucrezia watches over him and Alfonso tells her that it was Cesar. "He wants to kill me to have you." Sancha comes and agrees with her brother that it was Cesar. Later Buckard comes to tell Lucrezia that her father wants her to come and see him. Buckard says he will leave a guard to watch over Alfonso.
Lucrezia goes to see her father. He tells her that this is for the good of the family. She begs him: "Don't do this." She runs to get back home. The guards rush into Alfonso's room and bash him to death. When she gets back home, she is told by Buckard that something terrible has happened. Lucrezia faints. A funeral is held for Alfonso. Sancha spits in the face of Cesar. He strikes her across the face and knocks her down. Cesar says let her bury her brother and then be gone. He tells Jofre that he never wants to see her again.
Paolo Orsini gathers a group of leaders together and tells them that they all know that Cesar now plans to take Bologna. And Lucrezia will marry Algonso d'Este to ally with Ferrara. They all fear that Cesar will become the first king of Italy. All the leaders agree that they can only stop Cesar and his father if they all unite together against the Borgias.
Lucrezia and her mother are outside while the nanny watches her two children. Cesar walks up to them. He is the last person Lucrezia wants to see. Cesar tells her he knows she doesn't want to see him, but he came to say goodbye before she goes off to Ferrara. Lucrezia's boy Rodrigo is afraid of Cesar. She says, of course, he is afraid of Cesar. Lucrezia then tells Cesar that he was the one person she loved the most, but also the person that hurt her the most.
Cesar has dinner with his captive Caterina. He tells her she is as cold as death. Then he asks her why has no one come for her? Where are all these enemies? Caterina just glares at him. Cesar even holds a knife to his own throat and makes Caterina hold it, but Caterina will not stab him. Cesar leaves the room. Miguel now comes in and tells Caterina that she is free. They are waiting downstairs to take her anywhere she wants to go. Caterina goes down, gets on a horse and takes off.
Bad news comes to the pope. Urbino and Camerino and other territories have rebelled. Behind all of this is Vitellozzo Vitelli, Paolo and Francesco Orsini and Oliverotto da Fermo. The pope says that Cesar's army is too weak to confront the combined forces of their enemies. Governor Vallorca advises them to make peace with the others. He leaves. The pope wants Cesar to make peace with the other families. Cesar does not want to have to apologize to the others, but his father insists.
The leaders come to talk with Cesar. One of them doesn't like the meeting place. He smells a rat.
Cesar comes downstairs and greets the leaders very warmly. He then gives a signal and the dead governor Vallorca is pushed off the second floor to the courtyard floor. All the leaders are arrested and tied up. When Cardinal Orsini comes to demand an explanation from the pope, the pope has him arrested.
Cesar condemns all the leaders to death. Cardinal della Rovere tells a young cardinal that when the pope dies, Cesar will be like a ship without a rudder. He will turn to someone who can advise him and that person is none other than himself, Cardinal della Rovere. The pope arrives at the cardinal's house. They have dinner with lots of others. The cardinal and one of the house maids are acting very slyly and the suspicion is that they may be going to poison the pope.
At night the pope is in terrible pain. He cries: "I have been poisoned!" He also says: "I can't die. Not now." The doctor comes and says he thinks it some kind of illness. Cesar is suffering from the same thing.
Pope Alexander VI is dead! Cardinal della Rovere becomes the next pope.
Three years later.
Back to the present. Cesar kisses the ring of the new pope Julius II.
Three years later. Cesar has escaped from his prison cell. He writes to his sister that he is coming back to Italy. Lucrezia shows her husband the letter and he throws the letter to the winds. He tells his wife to tell her brother to stay in Navarre. Lucrezia writes back to her brother asking him to be patient.
Two men wait for the arrival of Cesar. One man mentions that they say that Cesar has to wear a mask because syphilis has so destroyed his face. A messenger from Cesar rides up. The man with the letter for Cesar Borgia says he has to give the letter to Cesar himself. The messenger sends the letter carrier over to Cesar. He is wearing a black mask over the top of his face. The man gives the letter to Cesar and then leaves. The letter is from Lucrezia. She writes that she has tried everything with no success. No one wants Cesar Borgia to return to Rome. If Cesar does come, they will kill him.
Cesar comes ahead anyway. He and his aide/messenger run into a band of mercenaries. Cesar tells the messenger to leave now. Alone, Cesar charges the mercenaries. He kills several men, but then is stabbed in the back with a sword. Five pikes are then driven into his chest. In his right hand he still carries the memento he once gave to his sister and she later returned to him
"Not even Cesar Borgia's body ever returned to Rome. The inquisition dictated that his remains would lay in the patio of the church Santa Maria in Viana so the people could walk over his tomb. Lucrezia didn't go back to Rome either. She achieved notoriety in Ferrara which has fomented her legend by protecting art and culture. She died 12 years later due to complications after giving birth to her fifth child."
Spoiler Warning. Poor Lucrezia Borgia. She was born to a man who was so ambitious that he would do anything to reach his goals. Although he said he loved his children, he really used them for his own selfish ends. Lucrezia was used by her father as a political pawn. He would marry her to someone with which he could form a political alliance. And twice when her husband's political influence was no longer needed, her father and brother Cesar would murder the husband. Lucrezia didn't want either of her first two husbands killed, but her family killed them anyway. They had no real concern for her. They kept stressing that she should be obedient.
Her father became pope because he wanted to use the office for his own and his family's personal welfare. He was certainly not a good man, but rather a bad one. And yet he became pope. As pope he had people murdered in order to move ahead to his ultimate goal. He then started wars as a method to get himself a kingdom for himself and his children. Indeed, he came to be known as the Warrior Pope. Because the pope was so evil, he caused his own destruction and the destruction of both of his sons. If you make a world full of enemies, one of them is bound to do you in, in one way or another.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Prince of Foxes (1949).
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