Goya's Ghosts (2005)





Director:     Milos Foreman

Starring:     Natalie Portman (Ines/Alicia),  Javier Bardem (Brother Lorenzo, the Monk),  Stellan SkarsgDrd (Francisco Goya),  Randy Quaid (King Carlos IV), Wael Al Moubayed (Deaf interpreter to Goya), Simn Andreu,  Genoveva Casanova (Cortesana),  Scott Cleverdon,  Andrs Gertrudix,  Jos Luis Gmez Vctor Israel,  Eusebio Lzaro, Michael Lonsdale (Father Gregorio), Jose Luis, Cayetano Martnez de Irujo (Wellington),  Enrique Martnez,  Blanca Portillo,  Mabel Rivera,  Toni Rodriguez (Asylum Man), Craig Stevenson (Napoleon Bonaparte),  Fernando Tielve,  Unax Ugalde

Life and times of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, who was a target of the Spanish Inquisition.



Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.

1792 Madrid.  Holy Office of the Inquisition.  The inquisitioners are examining the etchings of witchcraft scenes.  The etchings are for sale in the bookshops and in the streets of Spain.  They are also sold in Rome and Mexico.  The name of the artist is Francisco Goya.  He is the court painter and the king and queen of Spain think that he is Spain's greatest painter.  Father Lorenzo defends Goya somewhat by saying that the etchings illustrate our world of today.  This upsets one of the priests and he says that Goya has shown himself to be "an agent of the darkest of powers".  The painter even uses prostitutes as his models. 

Brother Lorenzo does not back down saying that Goya is a valuable member of the church. He also says that in the 50 years of the Inquisition they have only burned eight people at the stake.  Lorenzo is actually saying they must get much stricter with and harder on the real heretics. He says he even wants to lead such a movement. 

In his studio Goya paints a portrait of his lovely model Ines Bilbatua.  After the portrait is finished, it is seen by Brother Lorenzo, who is having his own portrait painted by Goya.  Lorenzo says he knows this face.  She is one of the angels in his Florida Chapel.  Then he asks if it is true that artists become very intimate with their models.  Goya just laughs.   Lorenzo then asks if Goya is aware that he has many powerful enemies?  Goya replies that he has many powerful supporters too. 

Her Majesty visits Goya.  She will have her portrait painted while on horseback.  King Carlos IV is out shooting vultures that fly over a dead deer carcass. 

Lorenzo busies himself teaching his agents to spot people who are Jews or Protestants.  He also says sometimes a holy book cover may actually be containing a book by Voltaire, a terrible heretic.  In other words, he wants his agents to be acutely aware of what is going on around them. 

In a tavern, two agents are watching Ines.  She doesn't want to eat a small pig and this makes the agents think she might be Jewish.  One agent asks a bar maid about Ines. 

Ines receives a summons from the Holy Office.  This absolutely shocks her.  Her whole family tries to think if Ines said something sacrilegious, but no one can remember her saying anything bad about religion.  They wonder if perhaps she may be called in because they want her to testify against someone.  Ines says she doesn't know of anyone who has drawn the interest of the Inquisition.

The next day she reports to the Inquisition.  There are three clerics there, but only one asks her questions.  They want to know what she had for dinner at the tavern?  Chicken.  They ask her if she was served any pork?   She says yes, but she didn't eat any.  They then ask if what she is saying is the truth?  Yes.  Would she mind her proving it?  No.  So they start torturing Ines.  She is stripped naked and then hung up in the air by her hands behind her back.  They suspect that Ines is a secret Judaizer.  They want her to confess the truth.  When she says she already told the truth, they lift her higher into the air to make her suffer more.  Now Ines begs them to tell her what is the truth so she can admit to it. 

Goya paints at night with with lots of candles going half-way around the brim.  Tomas comes in to see Goya.  He tells him that his daughter Ines has been summoned by the Inquisition and he needsto speak to this Father Lorenzo.  Goya finds this hard to believe that they would single out Ines.  Tomas wants Goya to speak to the Inquisition about his daughter, but frankly Goya is afraid of the Inquisition as he should be.  He tells Tomas no. 

Goya makes more etchings.  The whole process of the printing of the etching is shown.  Father Lorenzo comes in to see Goya.  Goya shows Lorenzo the finished portrait of Lorenzo, who says he likes the painting.  Goya then tells Lorenzo that someone else has already paid for the painting.  Who?  Tomas Bilbatua, a very rich merchant.  Tomas will also pay for the reconstruction of the Convent of Saint Tomas.  Lorenzo asks what does this Tomas want from him?  Goya says he is the father of Ines.  The father would like to see his daughter released from the Inquisition. 

Lorenzo goes into the dungeon where the people are tortured and then chained up.  (brief nudity)  He is shown the way to Ines.  She is chained up and naked.  She tries to cover herself up.  Lorenzo gives her his cape to cover herself.  He says he does not have the power to release her, but he can give her family a message from her.  She asks Lorenzo to tell her family that she loves them. Lorenzo now holds the naked Ines in his arms  while telling her that he will take care of her. 

Goya brings Father Lorenzo over to the Bilbatua house.  Tomas introduces the priest to his family.  Lorenzo starts staring at a portrait of the pretty Ines and doesn't really hear Tomas talking about his plan to restore the Convent of Saint Tomas.  Lorenzo says it is a great painting.  Now Tomas can show him the container he has filled with coins for the church.  The group sits down for dinner.  Lorenzo brings up the situation of Ines.  He tells the family that she is in good spirits.  And she sends her love to her family.  Tomas asks when will she be released?  Lorenzo says he doesn't know, but she first has to stand trial. 

One of the brothers of Ines asks in a round about way (was she put to the question?) if his sister has been tortured?  Yes.  Mrs. Bilbatua is horrified by this information.  Tomas says he thought torture was abandoned by the Inquisition some years ago.  Lorenzo admits that this is true, but in these hard times, the church is bringing torture back  (Of course, he never admits that he himself was influential in bringing torture back.)

The family and Goya ask him penetrating questions about the efficacy of torture, but Lorenzo has a pat answer for all these questions  --  answers that were used before when the church used torture.  Tomas now asks if Lorenzo has ever been "put to the Question"?  What if he was asked to confess to being a monkey?  Would he give in and confess?  The priest answers, of course not.  Goya laughs and says that no one would ever ask Father Lorenzo such an absurd question, but Tomas says:  "I would."  Tomas leaves the room.   

Tomas comes back with a confession for Lorenzo to sign.  It is a confession to being the son of a chimpanzee and an orangutan and that he has joined the church to do harm to it.  He wants Lorenzo to sign the document.  Lorenzo starts to leave but the sons and the servants stop Lorenzo.  Goya protests and gets himself thrown out of the house.  Now they tie Lorenzo's hands behind his back and lift Lorenzo by a rope tied to his hands.  The man screams out in pain.  Lorenzo signs the confession.  Tomas says that Lorenzo will only get the signed document, if he frees his daughter from the Inquisition.  He is let go. 

Lorenzo brings Tomas's donation to rebuild the chapel.  His superiors are impressed by the amount of the donation.  Lorenzo says there's a condition, however, to the donation.  Tomas Bilbatua wants his daughter back.  Lorenzo admits that he said he would try to get his daughter Ines released.  His superior, however, Father Gregario says that if they let the young lady go, it would be saying that the church doubts the validity of "the Question".  It doesn't look good for Ines. 

Lorenzo speaks with Ines again.  They pray together again, while Lorenzo fondles her thighs.  Tomas now appears before the King of Spain, who has a good laugh over Father Lorenzo having signed an admission that he is a non-human primate.  The king tells the family that he will do what he can for their daughter. 

Priests come to Goya for the portrait of Lorenzo.  Goya is told that Father Lorenzo disgraced himself and is now a fugitive. They are here to confiscate the portrait.  And if Goya sees Lorenzo, they want him to inform the clergy immediately. 

The clergy publicly burn the portrait of Lorenzo.  Goya is in the crowd seeing his work go up in smoke.

Goya lets one of the royal court see the portrait of the queen.  The man asks is the queen really this ugly?  He has never even been close to her.  When the queen sees her portrait, the queen is shocked at her face.  She and the king merely get up out of their seats and walk away without saying anything.  Later Goya has to report to the king.  The king plays a tune on the violin that he himself wrote.  He asks what Goya thought of the piece and Goya praises it. 

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a message.  The French people have decapitated the King of France six days ago.  It's his cousin Louis XVI.  The king is upset and leaves the room. 

Fifteen years later.  Napoleon speaks to his commanders.  He says he will no longer tolerate a corrupt rule of kings in Spain.  The current king in Spain is really French and the current queen is Italian.  French soldiers are told that the Spanish people will welcome them to Spain, because they hate the king as much as they hate the Inquisition.  When the French do move into Spain they are not welcomed by the Spanish.  A number of the soldiers are killed by the Spanish people. 

Goya says that he can see the cannon explosions, but he can't hear them.  He is completely deaf now.  He thanks God for his eyesight for it allows him to record in etchings all the various atrocities committed against the Spanish people.  And Napoleon makes his own brother Joseph the King of Spain.  The French proclaim the Spanish Inquisition abolished and all its properties confiscated and its prisoners released. 

Ines is released with the other prisoners of the Inquisition.  She is wretched looking.  Ines slowly walks home.  She goes inside only to see that it is empty.  Ines finds her brothers, father and mother executed.  She now goes to Goya's house.  She writes down that there never was a trial for her and her whole family is now dead.  But she has a child by Father Lorenzo.  She has a little girl and wants Goya to find her. 

Goya tries to find Napoleon so he can speak to them.  He finds that Father Lorenzo has become a spokesman for the ideals of the great French Revolution.  He shouts:  "There will be no liberty for the enemies of liberty."  Father Gregorio is told that he will be judged by his misdeeds in Spain.  The judges sentences Gregorio to death.  Now Lorenzo sees Goya in the crowd and he goes over to him. 

Goya asks Lorenzo if he remembers Tomas Bilbatua?  Yes, he remembers.  Goya says the man is dead, but his daughter needs help.  Goya says he owes Tomas a lot because he had to run to France because of this man and there he saw the errors of his ways.  He even married in France to a woman named Henrietta and now he has three children.  When Ines comes in it is obvious that she is happy to see Lorenzo.  She asks if their daughter is with him?  Lorenzo pretends that the woman must be delusional.  He asks her what happened to her daughter?  Ines does not know.  He takes Ines to the side, opens a side door and tells her to go with the soldier to see her daughter.    He then tells Goya that it's obvious that Ines has gone crazy and she is to be put in an asylum where she will receive good treatment. 

Lorenzo now searches for his daughter.  He learns that she was sent to a convent.  There she was baptized as Alicia. 

Goya is in a park drawing sketches of people.  He sees a young woman that looks very much like Ines.  She works as a prostitute and is picked up by a man in a carriage.  Goya rushes over to the Madame and she tells him that he can have Alicia tomorrow. 

Joseph Bonaparte talks with Lorenzo about the paintings in the royal art gallery.  Joseph selects the paintings he thinks Napoleon will like, has them packed up and sent to Paris.   

Goya comes to see Lorenzo once again.  He tells Lorenzo that he wants to get in touch with Ines Bilbatua.  Why?  Because she does indeed have a daughter.  Goya saw her in the Pardo Gardens.  He asks Lorenzo to bring Ines to his house so he could introduce her to her daughter.  Lorenzo says yes.

Lorenzo hurries to the Pardo Gardens and arranges to obtain the services of Alicia from the Madame.  He tells Alicia that he just wants to talk to her.  He asks her about her parents, but Alicia doesn't know much about them.  Lorenzo offers her a deal.  If she will go to America, he will provide her with enough money so she will never want for anything.  Alicia thinks he wants her to become part of someone's harem, screams at the top of her lungs and jumps out of the carriage. 

Goya wants Lorenzo to tell him where Ines is, but Lorenzo doesn't want to.  The famous painter resorts to violence to get the information out of Lorenzo.  The next day Goya goes to get Ines.  He has to pay the head of the asylum 200 reales to release her to him.  Ines does seem a bit crazy as she stuffs a pillow under her dress to give her the feeling and appearance of being a pregnant woman.  Goya finally gets through to her when he tells her he has found her daughter. 

Goya now goes to get Alicia.  He is in the process of telling her he wants her to meet her mother Ines, when French soldiers burst into the prostitution den.  Alicia tries to hide but is grabbed and put onto a wagon.  Goya tries to stop the soldiers from taking her, but he is smashed in the face with the butt of a rifle.  Goya goes back to his carriage, only to find that Ines has walked away.  Now Goya has neither daughter or mother.

Ines goes to the prostitution tavern, finds a baby left there during the melee and picks her up. 

Goya protests to Lorenzo that he is sending the whole lot of prostitutes to America, just to get rid of his own daughter.  Lorenzo claims that this is the best thing for the women.  The two men start arguing until Goya is attacked by a ringing in his ears that causes him pain.  Lorenzo receives the news that the British under Wellington have crossed the border from Portugal to Spain.  And the Spanish people are joining the British forces.  Lorenzo now has to worry about saving his own neck and the necks of his family.  He rushes home to get his family into his carriage so they can leave. 

Goya recovers and starts to leave.  He sees Ines with the baby.  Ines says she wants her baby to see her father.  The prostitutes are being escorted to the coast, when the British attack.  The French escort runs away leaving the women behind.  The rest of the troops move down the hill toward the ladies.  Alicia starts making eyes at an officer.   

Lorenzo is shot by two Spanish guerrillas and then captured by what looks like a whole village.

Now Father Gregorio is released and he gets to try Lorenzo before an ecclesiastical court.  The church declares him guilty and his punishment is set at death.  But, if Lorenzo repents publicly, his life and soul will be spared.  Lorenzo doesn't repent so he will be executed publicly.  The crowd shouts at him.  Ines sees Lorenzo and calls out to him.  Her daughter Alicia stands on a balcony with her officer.  Goya sketches the execution.  The new King of Spain and his family make an appearance before the crowd from a balcony.  The king nods to the executioner and Lorenzo is executed. 

Lorenzo's body is taken to the cemetery.  Ines goes with the car that carries his body.  Goya follows half a block behind the very small procession.


Spoiler Warning:  The film is mostly about the Spanish Inquisition and its victims.  The material on Goya is more background to the larger story of the ever-popular notion of "witch hunts".  I think that Father Lorenzo was sexually attracted to Ines, a model that Goya used in some of his paintings.  He first fixated on her face as an angel in one of Goya's painting in the Florida Chapel.  Then when he visited Goya's workshop, he saw a lavish painting of Ines.  There is no direct proof of this, but it would seem to make sense that Father Lorenzo used agents of the Inquisition to try and get something on Ines, so Lorenzo could manipulate Ines in any way he liked.  The evidence of her being a crypto-Jew was slim indeed.  She just didn't want to eat the flesh of a small piglet with its head still attached to its body on the serving tray. 

Once the Inquisition got its hands on a person, that person was condemned and punished.  The Inquisition put Ines through torture in order to force a false confession out of her.  The torture was sado-masochistic in nature with Ines being stripped naked and then tortured.  All this would play into Father Lorenzo's sexual fixation with Ines. 

Father Lorenzo always played innocent where Ines was involved, but he had definitely planned this whole thing out.  He goes to the prison and enjoys the sight of a naked Ines.  He comes to her acting like her potential savior and ends up trying to force her body into his while they supposedly prayed together.  Lorenzo came many times to visit Ines.  In one visit we are shown that during a prayer session Lorenzo fondles the thighs and other parts of the naked or near-naked Ines. 

Lorenzo misused his position to get sexual gratification from Ines.  In fact, Lorenzo even got Ines pregnant while she was imprisoned.  Later, Lorenzo was forced out of Spain and into France.  There he becomes a radical supporting the principles of the French Revolution, including its anti-clericism.  In France the man who had sworn to a vow of celibacy marries and has three children. 

The film is a condemnation of these unfair and anti-rational "witch hunts" that nations and societies periodically use to eliminate political threats.  Witch hunts often lead to sexual perverts coming to power, thereby allowing them to carry out their deviant sexual desires on those caught in the web of the witch hunt.  Father Lorenzo was such a person. 

Goya is not really integral to this story of the witch hunt called the Inquisition.  The famous Spanish painter did run afoul of the Inquisition, but he survived its threats.  He was not tortured by the Inquisition as his model Ines was.  Father Lorenzo could have picked any young, pretty woman as his victim.  This story did not need a Goya at all.  His name is used in the film to give grant more box office appeal to the movie.  (On the other hand, Goya did draw etchings and painted pictures dealing with aspects of witchcraft and the Inquisition, so he does have some relationship to the story of the Inquisition.)

The film is also a direct criticism of the use of torture.  The justifications for the use of torture by the inquisitors were ludicrous in the extreme, but the church used these justifications to rationalize its use of torture to force all its enemies into a state of great fear concerning the Inquisition. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



Historical Background:

See Goya in Bordeaux for Historical Background



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