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The Dark Night of the Soul (1989)

La noche oscura (original title)
A fascinating study of the poet Saint John of the Cross, and his spell in solitary confinement. Set in the convent of Toledo, this film explores the temptations that surrounded him, the ... See full summary »


Carlos Saura


Carlos Saura (screenplay), San Juan de la Cruz (excerpts)
9 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Juan Diego ... San Juan de la Cruz
Fernando Guillén ... Vailer (as Fernando Guillen)
Manuel de Blas ... Prior
Francisco Casares Francisco Casares ... Fray José
Fermí Reixach ... Fray Gerónimo Tostado (as Fermin Reixach)
Julie Delpy ... Virgen María
Abel Vitón Abel Vitón ... Fray Jacinto (as Abel Viton)
María Elena Flores ... Superiora (as Mariaelena Flores)
Adolfo Thous Adolfo Thous ... Fray María
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Carlos Velasco Carlos Velasco


A fascinating study of the poet Saint John of the Cross, and his spell in solitary confinement. Set in the convent of Toledo, this film explores the temptations that surrounded him, the dreams that afflicted him, his sanctity and his sanity. Written by LolaFilms

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Erbarme dich
from "St Matthew Passion, BWV244"
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

An extremely claustrophobic film dealing with a mini-biography about San Juán De La Cruz by Carlos Saura
26 February 2018 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

A riveting study of the poet Saint John of the Cross, regarding his imprisonment, writings, torture, death and recognition. On the night of 2 December 1577, a group of Carmelites opposed to reform broke into John's dwelling in Ávila and took him prisoner. The Carmelites therefore took John captive. John was taken from Ávila to the Carmelite monastery in Toledo, at that time the Order's most important monastery in Castile, where perhaps 40 friars lived. John was brought before a court of friars, accused of disobeying the ordinances of Piacenza. Despite John's argument that he had not disobeyed the ordinances, he received a punishment of imprisonment. He was jailed in the monastery, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly, and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell measuring ten feet by six feet, barely large enough for his body. Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole into the adjoining room. He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread and scraps of salt fish. The paper was passed to him by the friar who guarded his cell.He managed to escape nine months later, on 15 August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell.

A thought-provoking and slightly boring picture about the great Saint and his spell in solitary confinement . Being a prison drama based on the life of Spain's mystic San Juan De La Cruz , set in the Catholic Castilla , in the middle of the Sixteenth Century . Regarding his self-punishments , mortification , pains and raptures . This film explores the temptations that surrounded him , set in the convent of Toledo, concerning about the dreams that afflicted him, his craziness ,his sanctity and his sanity. Juan Diego gives good interpretation , but overacting , at times . Support cast provides brief but nice performances , such as : Fernando Guillén, Manuel de Blas , Francisco Casares , and the beautiful and young French Julie Delpy . Evocative and luxurious cinematography by Teo Escamilla .

He was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church . After being nursed back to health, first with Teresa's nuns in Toledo, and then during six weeks at the Hospital of Santa Cruz, John continued with reform. in June 1570, the friars found the house at Duruelo too small, and so moved to the nearby town of Mancera de Abajo. After moving on from this community, John set up a new community at Pastrana and a community at Alcalá de Henares, which was to be a house of studies for the academic training of the friars. In 1572 he arrived in Ávila, at the invitation of Teresa, who had been appointed prioress of the Monastery of the Incarnation there in 1571. John became the spiritual director and confessor for Teresa and the other 130 nuns there, as well as for a wide range of laypeople in the city.In 1574, John accompanied Teresa in the foundation of a new monastery in Segovia, returning to Avila after staying there a week. Beyond this, though, John seems to have remained in Ávila between 1572 and 1577 . In October 1578 he joined a meeting at Almodóvar del Campo of the supporters of reform, increasingly known as the Discalced Carmelites. Although his complete poems add up to fewer than 2500 verses, two of them-the Spiritual Canticle and the Dark Night of the Soul-are widely considered masterpieces of Spanish poetry, both for their formal stylistic point of view and their rich symbolism and imagery. His theological works often consist of commentaries on these poems.

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Spain | France



Release Date:

23 February 1989 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dark Night See more »

Filming Locations:

Loarre, Huesca, Aragón, Spain See more »

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Color (Eastmancolor)
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