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LA CELESTINA was written in 1499 by Fernando de Rojas and is considered
to be second only to Cervantes' DON QUIXOTE as the greatest work of
Spanish literature. Here the novel is adapted for the screen by Rafael
Azcona, Francisco Rico, and Gerardo Vera, the last contributor serving
as director of this sadly uneven film. Despite boasting a cast of some
of the finest actors in Spain, the dialogue is such a mishmash of old
rhythms and contemporary expressions that much of the magic is lost.
But then the story is a bit on the 15th century wild side: a handsome young knight Calisto (Juan Diego Botto) is obsessively in love with the beautiful Melibea (Penélope Cruz) yet it takes the love potions of the bruja Celestina (Terele Pávez), enlisted by Calisto's conniving servant Sempronio (Nancho Novo), to effect the magic. Calisto's faithful and humble servant Pármeno (Jordi Mollà) fails in his attempts to block the spells delivered by Celestina but to no avail. Once the magic is in effect the worlds of each person fall apart. The human passions of love, greed, lust, revenge, and desire interplay in a manner that brings destruction in the path.
Made in 1996 before many of the actors involved became famous, the film 'looks' magical with radiant costumes and sets and spot on music. But the dialogue is clumsy, the English translations even clumsier, and the whole story fails to work its spell on the audience. Instead of a fiery climax the film just sort of fizzles. But it is interesting to see Penélope Cruz, Juan Diego Botto, Maribel Verdú, Jordi Mollà and Nancho Novo in their early stage of development. This is an escapist period piece that could have been so much better, but even in this state it is entertaining. Grady Harp
Based on the novel considered to be one of the greatest works of
Spanish literature, and traditionally marks the end of medieval
literature and the beginning of the literary renaissance in Spain . It
deals with a young nobleman , Calisto (Juan Diego Botto) , who falls in
love for Melibea (Penélope Cruz) , the daughter of a rich trader .
Calisto's servant Sempronio suggests they get the intriguing Celestina
(Terele Pavez) to further the romance . As he uses the old procuress
Celestina to start an affair with Melibea , an unmarried girl kept in
seclusion by her parents . The sorceress Celestina is the owner of a
brothel and in charge of two young employees . She uses people's greed,
sexual appetite which she helps create , then provides means to satisfy
, and love to control them . She was once a prostitute, and now she
dedicates her time to arranging discreet meetings between illicit
lovers, and at the same time uses her house as a brothel for the
prostitutes Elicia (Candela Peña) and Areusa (Maribel Verdu) . However
Calisto's other servant Parmeno is suspicious of Celestina , as he
knows about her tricks. After Celestina convinces Melibea of Calisto's
love and manages a brief clandestine meeting between them , Calisto
gives Celestina a valuable gold chain . Both servants -Pármeno (Jordi
Mollà) and Sempronio (Nancho Novo)- are not satisfied with the rewards
supplied by Celestina and demand more from her . As when the weary
Calisto returns home at dawn to sleep, his two servants go round to
Celestina's house to get their share of the gold . Celestina tries to
cheat them and in rage fight and events go awry .
The rich as well as perverse roles of this film based on famous book ¨La Celestina¨ by Fernando De Rojas are inspired by the meddling characters of the comedies of Plautus and in works of the Middle Ages such as The Book of Good Love by Juan Ruiz ¨Arcipreste De Hita¨ and Italian works like The Tale of the Two Lovers by Enea Silvio Piccolomini and Elegía de Madonna Fiammeta by Giovanni Boccaccio and other usual archetypes of medieval literature . La Celestina was written during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella , whose marriage took place in 1469 and lasted until 1504 , the year of Isabella's death, which occupies the last phase of the Pre-Renaissance for Spain and when took place major events in the history of Spain as the discovery of the Americas , the conquest of Granada and the expulsion of the Jews . The film relies heavily on the intrigues of the nasty servants plenty of nudism and sexual scenes in which the couples of whores and villains are usually making love . One common feature of all of the characters result to be their individualism , their egoism, and their lack of altruism . The private benefit of the lower-class characters forms a substitute for the love/lust present for the upper class . The character development is carried out through relationships between complementary or opposing roles , as in general there are two opposite groups of characters, the servants and the nobles, and within each group are characters divided into pairs . At the end take place a dramatic sequence of happenings , thus setting off treason , deaths and executions . Nice acting by Terele Pavez as Celestina , she gives a colorful and vivid character , hedonistic , miserly , and yet full of life. She has such a deep understanding of the psychology of the other characters that she can convince even those who do not agree with her plans to accede to them . Celestina represents a subversive element in the society, by spreading and facilitating sexual pleasure . As the name Celestina has become synonymous with Procuress , especially an older woman used to further an illicit affair , and is a literary archetype of this character , the masculine counterpart being Pandarus . Celestina is the element that catalyzes the tragedy, and represents a life lived with wild abandon . Acceptable main cast formed by young actors as Juan Diego Botto and Penélope Cruz . They are supported by a magnificent secondary cast , such as Nathalie Seseña , Carlos Fuentes , Anna Lizaran , Ángel Andrés López , Lluís Homar and Ana Risueño , among others .
Colorful and brilliant cinematography by José Luis López-Linares . Atmospheric and evocative musical score full of Middle Age music and classical soundtrack . The motion picture was regularly shot by Gerardo Vera , being filmed in his usual formal and stylistic scholarship , without leaving a trace the thought-provoking issues , in terms of dramatic and narrative excitement . It was notorious screen-writer Rafael Azcona who encouraged director Gerardo Vera to make this movie . Gerardo Vera was born in Madrid , where he often shoots his films . He is a good filmmaker , production designer and costume designer , known for Deseo (2002) , Tattoo (1999) , Segunda Piel (1999) and especially this , La Celestina (1996). Gerardo Vera is particularly famous as a prestigious Production designer , being known for El Pecador Impeccable , Fuego Eterno , Mitad del Cielo , Tasio , Feroz and La Niña De Tus Ojos (1998).
They are several renditions about ¨La Celestina¨, although usually regarded as a novel , it is written as a continuous series of dialogues and can be taken as a play , having been staged as such and filmed . These are the followings : 1969 year by Cesar Fernández Arvadin with Julián Mateos as Calisto , Elisa Ramírez as Melibea and Amelia de la Torre as Celestina ; TV miniseries with Miguel Ayones , Gemma Cuervo , Cándida Losada and Tony Soler as Celestina and Mexican version (1976) with Isela Vega , Ofelia , and Ana De Sade
'La Celestina' is based on Fernando de Rojas 1499 novel but this translation on screen is truly dull. 'La Celestina' looks good. The costumes and sets look radiant. The score is pleasant to the ears until it gets too repetitive and intrusive. The screenplay is poor especially the awful dialogues. 'La Celestina' is more a soap opera than a movie. Perhaps the director was confused about whether he was making a movie or a 'telenovella'. The dialogue delivery is laughably bad. The soliloquys are most annoying. The acting is overtly theatrical. With actors like Jordi Molla and Penelope Cruz, one would have expected better. Maribel Verdu is the only one who turns in a decent performance. For a fairy tale, 'La Celestina' has a lot of sex which are tastefully shot. Anyway, the film doesn't otherwise live up to expectation. Yawn.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LA CELESTINA is a good, not great movie, from a great storyline. It
involves a witch, a failing romance, a virtuous young woman & a horny
knight. The knight has two servants that appear to have different
opinions about the witch but turn out to be more alike than intended.
The acting is great except for Penelope (female lead) Cruz who both doesn't have enough of a role nor does she do enough. It comes with either English or Spanish language track & English subtitles. The musical soundtrack is classical & I enjoyed it a lot.
The witch & her influence on the town are as marvelously done as the music. Throughout the movie it is the servants & witch that power the story & not the lead actors. I can't rate it 3 stars but I can't rate it 4 either. The love story is kind of weakly done in my opinion.
Interesting movie to look at, but failed to make me really care about the characters. The dialogue and manner of speaking was rather artificial and overly-theatrical; as if it were trying to go for a Shakespeare-lite effect. The characters' actions sometimes seemed to be nonsensical and in service to the plot rather than being the way people in such a situation would really behave; they would often act against their own obvious best interests with little to gain. If there was any kind of theme here I'm not sure what it was: Greed is bad? Let love take a natural course, without resorting to supernatural means to advance it? And I'm not even sure that Celestina really did any "magic" to get the two lovers together; she was just more of a persuasive facilitator than potion-brewing sorceress. I myself didn't have any problem with the sex/nudity; there's nothing wrong with looking at beautiful bodies and people enjoying each other. In the DVD I saw, however, some of the full-frontal nudity was blurred out, and some--a scene of Mr. Botto arising out of a bathtub--was not, so I guess someone somewhere DID have a problem with it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Quite disappointing. Sometimes the Spanish confuse smut for art and this is a case in point. This movie was probably the point in time where Penelope Cruz's beauty and talent started to become a thing of exploit. I having been watching her films back to back for the past few months because I recently became a devoted fan and I have to say this is one of the worst films I am seen her in next to 'Don't Tempt Me' and 'Sahara', I honestly don't get the point of all soft porn scenes, I mean I know this film was shot in a era (15th century) when stuff like that was as normal and inconsequential as tying ones shoe laces but come on the point was made when it was shown once or twice. That said, it's nice to see that Ms. Cruz has blossomed as an actor since then.
If you like Penélope Cruz or Juan Diego Botto, don't ever watch this film. Possibly it is their worst interpretation. But La Celestina is more than these two players. All the supporting actors and actresses make a really good job, and it is always a pleasure to see Terele Pávez playing. The setting is good, the dresses are quite correct and the adaptation of this difficult book (novel or theater play or whatever the critics decide it will be) is, at least, acceptable.
Nothing stands out as particularly bad in this movie. The problem is, nothing is especially good, either. The story kept me mildly interested, but the entertainment value was usually kept to a minimum. The ending surprised me a little, but it certainly wasn't enough to cancel out the overall mediocrity. A decent way to kill some time, but nothing more.
Based on the famous classics book of Spanish literature, La celestina is a tragic history of desperate love in the XIV Century in Spain. Calisto is in love to Melibea, hoping to seduce her, he contracts the services of Celestina, who will make all that is needed to make lovers meet. However, destiny will play a part, and the end will show us the consequences of loving too much. The movie has a great job of adapting to the time is set, moreover, the work of the actors is quite good and the directing is not bad. What's the problem? the story, it is boring and make the 2 hours a time too long to spend in this movie. In addition, the fact that most of the time characters are like saying a poem instead of speaking make it a little hard to follow because you have to be very aware of this boring movie to understand it completely. If the main book was better, the movie could have been quite good, but that's the problem, the plot is boring and empty, that spoils all the enormous job of the technicals.
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