5 user 1 critic

Volavérunt (1999)

On July 23 of 1802, the Duchess of Alba, the richest and most liberated woman of her time, offers a gala to inaugurate her new palace. Attendance is extraordinary: the Prime Minister Manuel... See full summary »


Bigas Luna


Cuca Canals (screenplay), Bigas Luna | 2 more credits »
3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón ... Duquesa de Alba
Penélope Cruz ... Pepita Tudó
Jordi Mollà ... Godoy
Jorge Perugorría ... Francisco Goya
Stefania Sandrelli ... Marie Luisa de Parma
Olivier Achard Olivier Achard ... Grognard
Jean-Marie Juan Jean-Marie Juan ... Pignatelli
Empar Ferrer Empar Ferrer ... Catalina Barajas
María Alonso María Alonso ... Condesa de Chinchón
Zoe Berriatúa Zoe Berriatúa ... Príncipe Fernando
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Carlos Bardem
Ayanta Barilli Ayanta Barilli ... Duquesa de Osuna
Pepe Cantero Pepe Cantero ... Jefe de policía (as José Cantero)
Javier Coromina
Alberto García Demestres Alberto García Demestres ... (as Alberto Demestres)


On July 23 of 1802, the Duchess of Alba, the richest and most liberated woman of her time, offers a gala to inaugurate her new palace. Attendance is extraordinary: the Prime Minister Manuel Godoy, the painter Goya and Pepita Tudo, lover of Godoy and his model Goya's famous painting The Nude Maja. The next morning, the Duchess of Alba is found dead in her bed in mysterious circumstances. Based on the novel by Antonio Laretta.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Spain | France


Spanish | French

Release Date:

1 October 1999 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

A meztelen Maya See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

€452,000 (Spain), 5 November 1999, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Quinteto para Guitarra Nº2 en E, G. 446 / Polacca (Tempo Di Minuetto)
Written by Luigi Boccherini
Performed by Pepe Romero and The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble
Courtesy of Philips Classics Productions
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User Reviews

luxurious and luxuriant fetishness pervades, amid inaccurate historical background
23 December 2001 | by khatcher-2See all my reviews

Bigas Luna is not exactly the easiest of Spanish directors with whom to come to terms. His stories tend to wade neck-deep in sophismic quagmires, aided and abetted by insolently visual splendours, which, however, for the intelligent viewer will not succeed in covering up certain lackings which place this director a long way away from Buñuel, or even Saura if you push me. After having been besieged throughout his `La Camarera del Titanic' which left me neither hot nor cold and wondering where the supposed story went under the overlay of irritating sumptuousness, I ventured into watching `Volavérunt' more from my personal interest in the famed Spanish artist Francisco Goya, and to see how Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and Penélope Cruz - who are intimate friends - would bear up, rather than any attraction Bigas Luna might have.

The story revolves around Goya's womanising and the mysterious death of the Duchess of Alba at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Centuries, at a time when Madrid was wobbling through a difficult time and setting the scene for the following Prim vs Crown uprising. The title of the film comes from the Duchess of Alba's euphemism for her most private parts, supposedly revealed in the famous painting `La Maja Desnuda' but which in fact is another woman's body - possibly Pepita Tudó (Penélope Cruz). `Las Majas' were originally called `las gitanas' (gypsy women), but in those days `maja' meant a liberal woman who enjoyed her sexuality and sensuality.

The sets are superb, at least as good as any other period piece films I have ever seen; Franca Squarciapino's costumes are extravagantly magnificent; Asturian courtyards, heraldic-emblazoned palaces and luxury carriages pass by in front of your eyes. But the story is stulted, overwhelmed perhaps by such an immense visual banquet.

Jordi Mollà played an unconvincing Godoy; you should see him in `La Buena Estrella' (qv). And as for our two lovely actresses, I can only opine that Carlos Boyero in his insolent and infinitely unrefined article in `El Mundo' when this film was shown at the San Sebastián film festival, was right at least in saying that they are superbly beautiful, but they too need rôles which can show they are good actresses. Amen: in `Volavérunt' they were not able to show anything - apart from a fair amount of sexuality.

At a grand gala dinner held in the midst of so many conspirations in and out of the royal palace, a fascinating piece of music can be heard: it is the last movement of `El Retrato de Madrid' (Portrait of Madrid) by the Italian composer Luigi Boccherini who for many years was the Spanish Court's official maestro da capela; this piece was composed some years later than the film's story.

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