Francisco Goya (1746-1828), deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. He's living with his ...
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Francisco Goya (1746-1828), deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. He's living with his much younger wife Leocadia and their daughter Rosario. He continues to paint at night, and in flashbacks stirred by conversations with his daughter, by awful headaches, and by the befuddlement of age, he relives key times in his life, particularly his relationship with the Duchess of Alba, his discovery of how he wanted to paint (insight provided by Velázquez's work), and his lifelong celebration of the imagination. Throughout, his reveries become tableaux of his paintings.Written by
Strange coincidence: the actor Francisco Rabal not only plays the old Goya but in real life also died in Bordeaux, in 2001, two years after premiering the film. See more »
In some copies on the film, when Goya's daughter Rosario is showing him her drawing, sitting on an easel in the background we see "La lechera de Burdeos/The Milkmaid of Bordeaux", one of the artist's last paintings. The image we see is reversed - the milkmaid is facing to the right and in the original she faces to the left. This is so due to the fact that the negative of some DVDs and some release prints is inverted in a brief middle section of the film that includes this scene. Another scene is that in which he is commissioned to paint the frescoes of San Antonio de la Florida Chapel. See more »
Yes, it's slow at times, but it's also an amazing visual and conceptual feat!
Goya in Bordeaux (1999)
A beautifully filmed and imaginative look at Spanish painter Goya's final years in France. There are fantastical flashbacks (really nicely created with translucent sets and changing lighting) and there are imagined versions of scenes that led to his paintings, highly colorful and gruesome. And effective.
If this movie isn't a raging masterpiece, it is mostly because there is no real plot. It's slow going, even though it is meant to be deliberate and patient. It meanders along as he lives out his final isolated years and we are shown (in spurts) his work and his past. The old Goya himself is played with believable gusto by Francisco Rabal, and the younger (with surprising continuity) by Jose Coronado. Neither are names familiar to American viewers, but both are convincing, which isn't always easy portraying a famous artist. If there is a deeper point here, it is the journey we all make toward death. And from what I read, Goya was afraid of death, and would be afraid of old age just as much as this movie implies.
If you like your artists heroic and inspired, you might find this version of Francisco Goya a little earthy and self-absorbed. But for me this was about right. He was an old man with little future, too much pain to make significant new work, and lots of memories. Of course, this being a movie (and being about life, too), there is an emphasis on his love affairs, or at least his interest in one particular rich woman, the Duchess of Alba. In truth, there isn't a clear history of Goya being involved with this woman, though there are several portraits of her (not including, most likely, the famous pair of reclining figures, one nude and one clothed, though this is implied if not stated in the movie).
All of this is neither here nor there for loving what is wonderful about the movie. Director Carlos Saura has created a magical world for this final great painter, one filled with the grotesqueness we associate with his work but also with terrific inventiveness, making the paintings come to life without simply re-staging them. The best last sections of the film are a tour-de-force, and indeed the whole movie is vivid and surprising. If we are sometimes slightly unenthused about the events going on (which are often nothing much), we are completely sucked in by the ever changing scenes and sets and hallucinatory worlds, part real and part Goya's dying mind.
In other words, the best of this movie is simply amazing. And any movie with such amazing portions is worth watching, at least in those parts.
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