Goya's Ghosts (2006) Poster


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A Bleak Masterpiece on the Nightmare of History
latinese30 August 2007
I think Goya is after all just a pretext. What Forman wanted to talk about is how people are overwhelmed by history. It's a difficult idea to be grasped for people who live in wealthy societies where nothing much happens and the biggest problems are having more money than you already have and what to do on Saturday night. But Forman manages to show you how you can be powerless and doomed when history moves fast--too fast. The real protagonist of the story is not the painter, but the former Dominican priest, whose life is totally changed--and ultimately destroyed--by the big historical events (the French Revolution, the French invasion of Spain, the English invasion of Spain, the Restoration). The same may be said for the other characters in the story. Goya is there as a witness, and as the symbolic figure of the artist who manages to create something even out of utter destruction. One could say that Goya's Ghosts are exactly those people and events Goya witnessed and can't get rid of, so that he has to turn them into drawings and paintings; but the term "ghost" also refers to what individuals are like in those moments when everything is changing and moving towards God knows what goal. The priest and the young girl and all the other people in the story are just pawns of history, who strut and fret on the stage and then disappear. Ghosts, because they can be annihilated in any moment. It's a sad truth, but it's truth, notwithstanding Hollywood's mythologies of super-heroes that can win against all odds. Joyce said that history is a nightmare one tries to wake up from; Forman showed us the nightmare, and the last nightmarish scene of this movie is one of those you can't forget.
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Don't believe the critics - See This Film!!!
Hughmn26 July 2007
There is one great flaw here that almost everyone mentions... and it's true. The accents of the non-Spanish actors clash terribly with the Spanish ones, as well as with each other. That's a real flaw, but if you can get past that, there's a great film waiting to be seen. I found I forgot all about it after the first 10 minutes. The critics just don't get this film. A lot of regular people seem to miss it too. They want a film with a typical "leading" role. They want their morality tales (which this certainly IS) delivered in easy shades of Black and White... no gray. They don't understand films where the title character is primarily an Observer. Sometimes that CAN be dissatisfying, but here the Observer is a genuine genius. Some people want him to be a moral giant, but he's not, he's simply an observer who has actualized the doctor's oath: First, do no harm. This is a brilliant story, and a morally complex one, too. There are some parallels to America in Iraq, though that is not the primary goal. This story illuminates the folly of any regime, liberal or conservative, as each picks its friends and foes, taking 180 degree turns from whoever was last in power. Javier Bardem gives an incredibly canny performance! Natalie Portman is totally unsentimental and totally committed to her multiple roles: just great! Stellan Skarsgard threw me off at first with the sound of his voice, but builds a performance of power and truth, in spite of it. Randy Quaid was a small revelation. And of course the film looks and sounds spectacular, with it's numerous and detailed textures, compositions and sounds. If you want to think; if you like having pat assumptions challenged; if you love people and history and art: see it!
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Brilliant Portrait of Goya and Spain in the 18th/19th Century
martys-722 August 2007
Imagine the paintings and drawings of Goya in all their darkness and beauty coming to life - this is Milos Forman's masterful film. Goya (and us)witness the folly of the Spanish royal court, the murderous sadistic perversion of the Catholic Church, the cruel inhumane madness of the Napoleonic War, along with the sensuality and beauty of life passing. This is the film's main focus: to let us experience the time and place as if seen through Francisco de Goya's eyes. As expected of a Milos Forman's film, the locales, the customs, and the overall production replicates the Spain of the late 18th century and early 19th century with the exactitude of a court painting. The cast is also excellent. As an Inquisitor turned a Napoleon's officer, Javier Bardem deserves another Oscar nomination. Stellan Skargsdar as usual does a chameleon-like transformation this time into Goya. Natalie Portman elevates herself into a higher realm of acting as the doomed, beautiful Ines. And Randy Quaid steals the screen for a few seconds as the King. Milos Forman again has given us an emotionally- and intellectually-challenging portrait of a dark era and the role of art and artist. Although some of the dramatization is slightly contrived, the film is compelling and moving and its vision lingers as Goya's art.
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Goya in the background
dromasca17 August 2007
A film by Milos Forman is always an event. This will probably not remain as one of the best in his career, and was surrounded by a level of controversy, not the least among critics who received it very differently. Yet, it is certainly a film to watch.

The story actually does not have Goya (Stellan Skarsgård) in the center. It is rather the story of a corrupt morality policeman of the 18th century (Javier Bardem) imprisoning a young girl (Natalie Portman) on the unjust suspicion of practicing Judaism in secret. It is the story of a police state built on social injustice relying on pretended moral puritanism in order to save the system. This happens at the price of huge human suffering like the drama in the center of the story, and here is the painter as a witness, living the dilemma of becoming involved as a human or remaining a witness as an artist. We know what path Goya chose.

I was not unhappy neither with the acting, nor with the story line, although it is a little bit too melo-dramatic and too much prone to coincidences. Forman is not so much focused on the drama or better say melo-drama, or even in the historical detail, although he seems to be on familiar ground getting back to the period in 'Amadeus'. What he is busy with seems to be more re-creating some of Goya's paintings and prints and tracing back the origin of inspiration of these masterpieces. In a way the film can be read as justification of the choice Goya made in life.
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Masterpiece from Forman, Carriere and maybe Buñuel
30885211 November 2006
Masterpiece written by Jean Claude Carriere, who wrote, for example "El discreto encanto de la burguesía" or "El fantasma de la libertad" with Luis Buñuel. He also helped Buñuel writing "Mi ultimo suspiro", Buñuel's autobiography.

This a movie not to explain, just to feel. Another great Forman movie, in my humble opinion better than "Man on the moon" or "Larry Flynt" (excellent movies anyway).

Buñuel wanted to do a movie about Goya. Maybe his friend Carriere is doing a bit like a tribute to him. Buñuel would have enjoyed this incredible movie.

Excellent performances by Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Randy Quaid and everyone involved.
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Really great
aiculik29 March 2007
I saw it yesterday on film festival. And it was great.

When I was reading the description of the movie, I had some doubts. It seemed it would be yet another film about bad, intolerant catholics and good and democratic atheists. I'm just fed up with that kind of films. But it was not so. In a short - it's a great film with bad description.

What it really is about, is that it doesn't matter what principles one believes in if their life is doesn't match these principles. Both inquisitors and French democrats were capable of same brutality - always, of course, in name of some noble idea - love, freedom, equality... It's not sentimental or pathetic and it doesn't try to tell you what is "the only truth". It simply says that its not principles and ideas that are bad - its people. Characters are very human, with many errors - but, at the same time, each of the characters, even "villains" have moments when you will like them. It is also because the film changes perspective several times, and those who were despots become victims.

Maybe its not the best Forman's film, but it is very good.
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A dark page in Spain's history
preina26 August 2007
This movie had a great storyline and kept one's attention from beginning to end, a well directed movie, I believe one of the best I've ever seen. While some period movies are overwhelmed by the attention to period detail, in this movie the background enhances and makes the movie more believable. The acting was very well performed and all the actors deserve equal mention. I would see this movie again and recommend to all. I have no doubt that this movie will garner many awards in many categories! The costumes, the backdrops and scenery were bar none and worthy of many accolades. The historical context is well worth mentioning. A terrific period in Spain's history that left a long and hideous scar on its glorious and eventful history. Enjoy and share this movie with a friend and then enjoy comparing notes of what each of you saw and felt especially attracted to!
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Hollywood will have to wait for long time to see again films of such quality
dirtyharrry26 April 2007
Hollywood will have to wait for long time to see again films of such quality,films that are condemned not to have a big commercial success but films that will remain in the history of art of cinema.The "ghosts of Goya" is taking us back to a past time showing with incredible reality the conditions of this time,and helped by a great performance of the actors,Milos Forman gives us another sample of his rare directing talent.In the question which film i like most "Amadeus" or "the ghosts of Goya" i can't decide which is more great,Mozart-a genius of music composing,Goya-a genius of painting,aspects of their lives under the unique look of Milos Forman.When i went to see this movie,here in a small town of Greece,there were only 25 people in the cinema,while films like "300" were played here for 2 months with the halls full of people.What can i say?History will judge us all...
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as a portrait of Goya himself it's less than satisfactory, but for fans of Bunuel (yes, Bunuel), it's worth seeing
Quinoa19844 August 2007
I read someone else's comment on IMDb (much more adulatory than I would be for Goya's Ghosts), who said that it was a masterpiece not only for Milos Forman and co-writer Jean-Claude Carriere, but for Luis Bunuel too. And that intrigued me even more than I was already in anticipation for the film, merely before as a Forman fan. Upon seeing it I can understand the enthusiasm, and had a kind of private, nearly perverse pleasure in recognizing (maybe too obviously on a subjective level) little things that popped up when Carriere and Bunuel collaborated on some of the late master's best works. On the other hand, for those not too familiar with films like the Phantom of Liberty, the Milky Way or That Obscure Object of Desire, Goya's Ghosts may seem like strong, strange film-making that starts to go a little more haywire after the half-way title card "15 Years Later" (possibly another in-joke for Un Chien Andalou fans) pops up. But it's not only certain things regarding the line between true drama and surrealism that marks Forman's latest as something interesting.

Matter of fact, it is a flawed film, notably in the casting of Stellan Skarsgaard as Goya himself. Why cast a Swedish actor, who usually isn't necessarily bad in the character-actor parts he takes on, in the role of one of the most decadent and ribald *Spanish* artists in the past 250 years of worldwide painting? Skarsgaard doesn't do too much to elevate the part outside of being the guy on the sidelines, dramatically trying to not get too much into the situations, at first, but then soon becoming like a match-maker in the second half when "daughter" drama happens between an ex-"Brother" and an ex-prisoner-of-inquisition. And yet, there is perfect casting in having Barden as the Brother Lorenzo, who doesn't change in how he tries to push aside any of the problems in his life that he doesn't want to deal with, be it questions of real faith, taking care of a certain lost woman, and his illegitimate child, even as he changes from man of the cloth to revolutionary in several years time. Seeing him in the first half in that black robe, his eyes dark and leering of Goya and even the Church to an extent, it's not wonder that he's one of the most sought-out actors of his time. And even better then that, as far as conventions go, he gets the truest kind of arc with his character.

Then there's Natalie Portman who, as probably as something of both an in-joke/reversal of the tactic used in 'Obscure Object' with two actresses playing the same woman, and a sort of disintegration-of-soul aspect that Forman might be after ambivalently, embodies the crushed innocence of repressive religion. Ines is tossed into a prison following a confession- whether true or not is left nicely vague- that she's Jewish following a questioning of what she ate, and left for more than a decade. Seeing her in this section it's clear she's lucid in her presentation of a simple characterization: sweet and naive, then later torn into oblivion by insanity and a near absurd desperation to find the child she birthed while in prison. When she plays the daughter it's a little more flat and pat, as all we see of her is as a 14 year-old (yes, 14 year-old) harlot. This mixed-up matching of actors (plus a few bits with Randy Quaid as a well-played pudgy king) is set to a backdrop of Spain where society is merciless and without much compromise unless the regime changes, which is towards one way (the ultra strict Catholics) or the other (the flawed Napoleon revolution people). Meanwhile, Goya, deaf, sketches away in drawings that today seem right out of graphic novels.

As mentioned, one may get some moments of random surprise as opposed to fully stark costume drama; the first appearance of Portman's daughter played by herself is a little doozy; the way the cardinal tells his choir boy to keep reading the passage even as the French soldier on horseback rides in with a decree, then shoots the boy midway through; the emergence of the British army going towards and swarming around a cart of 15 prostitutes left out in a field; the very last scene, where a cart carrying a dead man is followed by...say no more. So there is a drawback, or more than one at any rate, to Forman going for telling about the nature of the society around Goya than too much about Goya himself. It is a disappointment too to not get entirely, aside from the 'her face haunts me from that painting' logic, as to why Goya is so infatuated with Ines and her plight in the first place. There's not much to be seen into the man who drew such scandalous drawings whilst being the king's painter. What we get instead, which is intriguing and involving, if not totally successful, a story of corruption from the 'Powers-That-Be', and when it strikes at this Forman and Carriere get some good, juicy entertainment. 7.5/10
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Goya's Ghost
rajdoctor29 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had hesitated so much to go to see this movie – because I thought it is a period drama and I won't like the aristocracy, and I had assumed that this was a French or Spanish movie. To my surprise it is an English movie.

The story is around a painter Francisco Goya (played by Stellan Skarsgard) during the turbulent times (1790-1810) when Napoleon invaded Madrid. But do not be mistaken – this is not the story of Goya. The Director (Milos Forman) uses painter Goya just to provide a canvas for two main characters to emerge–the corrupt Brother Lorenzo (played brilliantly by Javier Bardem) and the innocent Ines (played outstandingly by Natalie Portman).

Ines after being wrongly detained by Christian church to prison is impregnated by Lorenzo, who runs away and later joins hands with Napoleon to come back (after 15 years) as a high official to find that Ines is the mother of his child – who is now the young street prostitute. With British invading Spain, Lorenzo is publicly prosecuted and the last scene shows Ines holding the hand of the dead body of Lorenzo taken out of the town in a horse cart.

Hats off to Director Milos Forman (remember One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus) – who after 7 years of making movies took a sabbatical from his teaching career to make this movie. And what a marvelous movie he has made – worth the wait.

The main plot is about the human race and its bigotry. The times are historic, yet significantly apply to today's world. Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman have given their award winning performances – especially Natalie Portman plays the role of the young Ines, old Ines and young prostitute daughter with such different range of get-over and acting that she astonishes us with her versatility and ease.

But the movie belongs – all in all to Milos Forman. As is the class of all great directors the musical score is magnificent. The nuances of undertones of each character's thoughts are presented aptly with perfect casting. Milos always entertains us with his subtle comedy – but I would call it as a black humor (I published last week that I do not understand black humor of "Hot Fuzz"). Now after seeing this movie I can say that I now know and understand what is black humor perfectly well. If you like the movie do not miss the ecstatic painting displayed during the unveiling of last titles. They are masterly selected by the master crafts person Milos.

If you are movie fan – and are philosophical doubter (tribute to my Guru Andreas Hensel – who is one) of everything – please go and see this wonderful movie.

(Stars 8 out of 10)
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A masterpiece
entova10 May 2007
This is one of the most beautiful movies I have seen. The actors are excellent, transferring their feelings of being lost, of hope and despair. And the movie itself is beautifully done - in the tradition of Amadeus, Ragtime and Valmont. I suggest seeing it on big screen.

It is nice to see Forman return with such a movie. Also, congratulations to the cast:

Javier Bardem (Brother Lorenzo), Natalie Portman (Inés/Alicia), Stellan Skarsgård (Goya).

I especially liked Natalie's performance. It is rare that such a young actress in Hollywood delivers such a performance in such a movie.
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Goya's dark side
sheenajackie22 May 2011
I was not aware of this magnificent film until 2010 and did not see it till now (May 2011), but it not only does not date, but Natalie Portman was a revelation, considering I have just seen her in Black Swan, and in this much earlier film, she was already proving her acting prowess. Javier Bardem proves his worth as much as in his later award winning films (The Sea Inside, No Country For Old Men, etc.) and I wonder how such a craggy-looking man can be so charismatic. Bardem has something unusual, a rare quality of conveying total realism in his acting which becomes him, not just a superficial persona he puts on. The supporting cast, especially Stellan Skarsgaard as Goya, provide a worthy backdrop for the two central, very powerful roles played by Bardem and Portman who convey the darkness of the period in excruciatingly detailed performances, then reflected in Goya's paintings. The film brings to life Goya's dark, realistic portraits of humanity in all its terror, grotesqueness, cruelty, and suffering during a tumultuous period of war and carnage. A brilliant film by Forman and I recommend anyone wanting a challenge in film to see this if they haven't already done so.
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Just average
haasxaar21 December 2006
Being a big fan of Forman I was obviously hoping that this film would keep me entertained and interested for its entire duration. It did, to a fair extent. Yet, what it lacked was any punch. No real statement or continuity came forth by the time the credits rolled up.

The film's premise of an exploration of Spain before its invasion and subsequent religious reversals and recantions is just lacking completely in continuity. No character is really explored deeply, Forman changes focus far too often. Take the sudden jump of 15 years midway through the film. Most characters are done away with completely and all others are beyond recognition except the main protagonist, the painter Goya. Even he is not really that interesting. He paints paintings. For different people. Natalie Portman's character serves as obvious pathos at the beginning, then her character turns into a demented and ruined savage. Forman never allows any identification, or any centre of interest establish itself. One moment the film seems to be dealing with religious fanaticism, other times with hypocrisy and social upheaval, other times with war.

The film is simply too disjointed, the characters mostly dull and the plot far too linear for this to be ranked amongst Forman's masterpieces. It spends too much time weaving around aimlessly with any apparent focus or goal. It seems Forman wanted to portray a period different any specific purpose or moral lesson - which is what he has achieved although really the cultural observations are equally diluted. Overall, a boring and plain film lacking intent or artistic endeavour, it is like Goya himself - nondescript and a little on the plain side.
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What if they made a film about Goya, and made "The Crucible" instead?
fablesofthereconstru-112 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"When they said, "Repent!"/I wonder what they meant," so goes singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen in "The Future"; so goes Father Lorenzo(Javier Bardem), too, in "Goya's Ghosts" when church officials try to save his life, before they deem to take it away, corporeally, in the same breath, with just one crank, at the gallows. To the disappointment of art buffs, this former man of the cloth figures more prominently than Aragonese Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Director Milos Forman uses the same strategy to better effect in "Amadeus", the Academy Award-winner for Best Film in 1984, in which Antonio Sallieri's mediocrity("I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.") took some of the film's locus away from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's genius. But "Amadeus" didn't stray far from the realm of art. "Goya's Ghosts", however, treats art like a footnote to the Spanish Inquisition. "Goya's Ghosts" is more about the relationship between art and religion, and between religion and government, than it is about art. Like "Zodiac", the main character becomes pro-active in the latter half of the film. In the David Fincher film, the editorial cartoonist turns into an investigative journalist. Here, the painter/printmaker becomes a whore wrangler. In other words, he's in the world, when most artists, especially somebody of Goya's stature, live in their own minds. Although Goya doesn't quite belong in the same pantheon of Pablo Picasso, or Edouard Manet; the Spainard, best known for "La maja desnuda" and "La maja vestida", he is considered a master, and should not be subjected to the degradation of having his likeness tied to a melodramatic plot point. He should be painting. But "Goya's Ghosts" has him seeking out a prostitute in a brothel, with the message that her mother is still alive. Goya deserves better than this.

Natalie Portman, plays both roles(Ines and Alicia), and in the case of the mother, she does her best "Monster" imitation. Portman lady-hams it up; you're always aware that she spent a lot of time in the makeup chair. Ultimately, it's distracting. Not only does Portman play ugly, she gets to weep a lot, too. What actress wouldn't take this role? But the film belongs to Bardem, now in possession of a recently-minted shiny, golden naked man. In the final scene, some moviegoers may think of Daniel Day Lewis' fate in Nicholas Hynter's adaptation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". If John Proctor repents, he'll stave off execution. In "Goya's Ghosts", Lorenzo's fate is sealed, regardless of his confession. When Lorenzo was a padre, Ines' father demonstrated the considerable flaw in "The Question". Under torture, the subject will likely confess to anything. Lorenzo signs his name to a document that states he descended from monkeys. Now, with his life in the balance, would his steadfast refusal to rejoin God's fold be any different if a concession meant a stay on his very mortality.
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Interesting but ultimately meandering period drama
alainenglish31 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Boasting some colourful, sumptuous set and costume work and amazing cinematography, "Goya's Ghosts" is unfortunately something of a missed opportunity.

It sees the famous Spanish painter Francesco Goya (Stellan Skarsgard) involved in the machinations of the Spanish Inquisition, when they wrongly imprison and torture Inez (Natalie Portman), a muse of his, for being a heretic. At the forefront of this is a duplicitous monk, Lorenzo (Javier Bardem), who complicates matters considerably when he becomes attracted to Inez...

The film covers a period of fifteen years, but the first half of the movie is more interesting as it tackles the issues raised by the reality of the Spanish Inquisition in a far more interesting way. The second half of the movie, after the fifteen-year interval, is a mish-mash of lousy ageing makeup, coincidence, and an ending that says and means absolutely nothing.

The key scene in the movie is a dinner scene with Goya and Lorenzo hosted by Inez's father Tomas (Jose Luiz Gomez), and Lorenzo is, quite literally, 'put to the question' himself. As Goya, Skarsgard doesn't really have much to do but gives a very interesting and eccentric performance nevertheless. Portman isn't too bad in the first half of the movie, but loses it when she's required to don make-up and play two roles later on.

Worth looking at for it's visuals and brief commentary on the nature of torture, but given it could have gone into more depth on the latter it stands as a missed opportunity.
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Haunting, but flawed
shhimundercoverdamnit27 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Goya's Ghosts, directed by Academy Award winner Miloš Forman. (Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) A lot of the critics panned this film, but I actually quite enjoyed it. It wasn't quite as engaging as Amadeus, but Forman really captured the aura of the period.

Natalie Portman's acting was also attacked by certain critics, ( she plays two characters here) and yet... I actually found her to be quite moving, especially as the imprisoned Inés who is accused of heresy against the Church. That scene of her after she is released from the inquisition prison, wow.

Stellan Skarsgård portrays the famous painter Francisco Goya & Javier Bardem plays Brother Lorenzo, an at the very least duplicitous monk.

Bardem chews up so much of the scenery here and I had no other feelings towards his character than of hatred. I see him as nothing more than a psychopathic, masochist, opportunist. This is a man who in the course of the film changes allegiances with the wind. In one of the movies most pivotal scenes, Brother Lorenzo visits Inés, tells her that he is about to help her, asks for her to pray with him and then proceeds to rape her.

Later on, Lorenzo reports to Inés family and defends "The Question"( torture) arguing that if the accused is really innocent, God will give them the strength to deny any guilt, so a person who confesses must be guilty. But, Inés family disagrees, arguing that a person will confess to anything under physical torture. To prove this, they draw up a statement which says that Brother Lorenzo confesses to being a monkey. In the end, Lorenzo is tortured and signs. So much for God's strength.
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Oozing with Problems
alexkolokotronis21 March 2008
I did here this movie was good from various people. Plus I do like Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem as well as the director Milos Forman. Yet after watching this movie I really had nothing to admire about it.

First off the acting was very much below average. The performances were just not powerful enough to really feel shocked by what the inquisition did. Javier Bardem did give a solid performance and was probably the only one who actually had as Spanish accent. It is pretty obvious why this Bardem was the only one. Natalie Portman, who I think is a very good up and coming actress did not really make me feel sorry for her being tortured. Like the movie there was nothing to admire about her performance. Stellan Skarsgaard who I do like gave a very average performance, like the other actors giving a boring performance. This movie was essentially about him since he plays Goya. Yet he did not become what he needed to be to make this movie good. What about Randy Quaid? You have just got to be kidding me. Him playing King Carlos IV. Look he is great in comedies but him playing a King that just describes the whole movie for you.

The directing was just horrible in this movie. When a movie is a mess there are usually two people to blame for that: the director and the writer. I get the feeling that Milos Forman really didn't want his actors to put a Spanish accent on. From the very few battle scenes in here they were all displayed horribly. Also as a director he needs to give you the feeling of shock of what the inquisition did. After this movie I felt like I could careless about the event. To sum it all up he poorly shot the scenes and misguided the actors.

The writing which was also done by Milos Forman was just as bad or maybe even worse than the directing. There really was nothing memorable of the movie except for one seen where Bardem does get the same treatment that Portman's character has gotten. Other then that the movie did not give you the feeling of the time period and at least it could have made up for it with a quote or two.

After finishing this movie I was just looking at the T.V. thinking OK why should I care about any of this. I do care and are very much interested in history but when movies like this come up it feels like the producers robbed you of something good that could have been taken away from the movie. When movies are this bad we highlight a lot of the technical faults in a movie than if it was good. Like the accents. I'm not sure people would have emphasized the lack of Spanish accents if this movie was good.

Thw whole point of this review is to say just don't watch it.
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Great ideas, great opportunities, great director - what a waste
Chris_Docker24 September 2007
With a title like that, you will be forgiven for thinking this film is about the great painter, Goya. Then after half an hour you decide it is more about the Roman Catholic Inquisition. With even more latitude, perhaps it is just a snapshot of the period. With lurid characterisation, too many axes to grind and a scant regard for fact, Milos Forman dishes up a colourful but shambolic, rambling mish-mash that fails on all three accounts.

Milos Forman (who lost his Jewish father to Nazi concentration camps), is the great director who painted the artist Mozart as a buffoon and got away with it. Won awards for it, in fact. His life in Czechoslovakia gave him a taste of diverse, repellent regimes, especially Communism. He also made the equally over-the-top but rather impressive, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. So, at the age of 74, how does he come to offer us this mess? In Goya's Ghosts, Goya is one step removed from buffoon. The main character is Brother Lorenzo, passionately acted by Javier Bardem. Natalie Portman is equally vibrant as Goya's model Ines (and later in the film, her own daughter). The tenuous connection with Goya is that he happens to paint both of them.

Lorenzo tortures (and then rapes) Ines who he suspects of being a Jew. Her father tortures Lorenzo. Napoleon dashes in to liberate Spain (briefly). Ines gets out of the dungeon the Church has left her in and searches for her child. Goya is still painting but has gone deaf. His main preoccupation seems to be helping Ines. And so on.

Historically, Goya was also a historian. As Forman had sadly relinquished the idea of a biopic of Goya the painter, this one fact could have been used to pull the whole film together – a large slice of history as seen by Goya. But the painter is too tangential to receive any weight. Similarly, a document of the terrors of the Inquisition should be done – compared to other despotic orders throughout time, the Holy See has been forgiven with barely a confession. Though one might ask if Forman is competent enough to be trusted with a factual account of anything.

"I thought this could be the heart of a wonderful story," he says in the production notes. "There were a great many parallels between the Communist society we lived under and the Spanish Inquisition." But the story is too tenuous to hold our attention. Against our expectations and with a background of something major (the life of a great painter, the horrors of the Inquisition, and even the French Revolution), we are instead asked to feel involved in a concocted (if kind) infatuation of Goya's. The result is that we feel cheated.

Background detail is appallingly handled. Goya went deaf in 1792 (when the film starts), not 15 years later. Napoleon is as believable as a cut-out from a cereal packet. We see the Church passing out a death sentence (when the normal procedure was for the Church to insist that the secular arm did that dirty work). Battles look overly-choreographed and stagey. A peppering of gratuitous naked bosoms hardly makes up for it.

On the positive side, the production values are mostly good. The colours are vivid, the pacing excellent (at least until we give up on finding any worthwhile storyline.) Bardem is excellent, and Portman is a joy until she goes into overdrive as a mad woman. While it doesn't say very much about Goya, what it does say is nice, even if superficial and pretty irrelevant.

I once had a late night drunken conversation where my friends and I asked each other, if you could choose a director to depict your life, who would it be? On his record, Forman would sadly have to be at the bottom of my list.
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Good picture full of biographic moments and sensitive drama along with the Inquisition and French invasion
ma-cortes27 June 2007
The film is set in 1792 ,it deals with eclectic people during a convulsed era from Spain history . It starts with the Inquisition and some years later with the encroachment by Napoleon Army and finishes with the French defeat and restoration of the Spanish monarchy with Fernando VII , after the victory by general Wellington (Cayetano M. Irujo) . The painter (1746, born Fuentedetodos and deceased 1828,Burdeos) Francisco de Goya (Stellan Skarsgard) , quintessential Spanish artist , becomes involved with the Spanish Inquisition , when his muse named Ines (director cast Natalie Portman after noticing her likeness to the girl in Goya's painting "Milkmaid of Bordeaux") who painted her like an Angel in the church of Saint Antonio of Florida and he's now portraying , she then is framed as a heretic . His daddy named Thomas Bilbatua (Jose Luis Gomez) ask him help , hoping what his relationship with the monk Lorenzo (Javier Bardem) can achieve the freedom for his daughter . Meanwhile , Goya is dedicated the painting of the portrait the royal family : Carlos IV (Forman cast Randy Quaid as the King of Spain after seeing his work in ¨Elvis¨ by phoning him and saying, "You are a great actor , you must be my King or I must repaint Goya") , Mª Luisa (Blanca Portillo) and children .

The film is a touching drama added with historic elements and formidable performances . The movie creates a canvas upon a turbulent epoch concerning specially with Inquisition . It was created by Pope Sixto IV in 1478 , its creation is supposedly caused for threat by Jewish and Moors becoming Christianism but practically disappeared with the Borbons Kings (Felipe V,Fernando VI and Carlos III) and was definitively abolished by the Court of Cadiz though spontaneously restored by Fernando VII in 1814 . The sentences were executed by means of a public event called ¨auto of faith¨(thus happens on the final) . Near the end, when the king appears in the balcony at the execution scene, some people yell "Vivan Las Cadenas!" (Long live the chains!). This salute was coined in 1814 by Spanish monarchists when Fernando VII was restored to the throne with absolute powers, thus abolishing the Constitution of Cadiz, which was established by Napoleonic authorities.

The flick displays an interesting showing the means are manufactured the famous Goya's engravings : ¨The war disasters¨ , ¨bullfighting¨ and ¨Caprichos¨ . Besides , recreating historical happenings such as ¨Charge of Mamelucos¨ and ¨Execution on mountain of Principe Pio¨. The movie contains a top-notch star-studded cast , as Skarsgard , Portman , Bardem give a sensational interpretations . Scenarios are luxurious and impressive , being designed by the prestigious Patrizia Von Brandenstein , the sets including palaces , rooms , interiors and outdoors are mesmerizing . Lush and brilliant costume design by Ivonne Blake (Oscar for Doctor Zhivago and Nicholas and Alexandra). Colorful cinematography by expert Spanish cameraman , Javier Aguirresarobe , (The others) . The film was lavishly produced by the brothers Saul and Paul Saentz , Forman's usual producers .The motion picture was well directed by the classic Milos Forman , an expert about biographies of notorious characters such as ¨Amadeus¨ , ¨Larry Flynt¨ , ¨Andy Kauffman¨ (Man on the moon) ; besides filming a lot of successes like are ¨Ragtime¨ ,¨Hair¨, ¨Valmont¨ , and of course , his greatest hit ¨Someone flow the Cucko nest¨.
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A Formidable Work of Art.
davidtraversa-115 December 2011
I was so impressed by this monumental film that even now, the day after watching it, It's still in my mind. Milos Forman must be one of the great directors on record in the history of movie-making.

To me, this is a masterpiece, a flawed one, if we consider the language used in it (English) spoken by the different actors with different accents and some of them too strong (Bardem's) to make the character believable, specially when one was accustomed to see that actor acting in his native tongue and his self-consciousness to dominate the accent is evident, almost painful to hear, like seeing somebody walking on exceedingly high heels when not yet fully accustomed to them.

But we can consider that a minor matter and at the same time appreciate that the actor made a considerable effort to learn his dialogue in a language foreign to him.

Letting aside this minor objection, this film is an incredible jewel. Everything in it has been done impeccably and the story line is so forceful that absorbs one mind from the very beginning without letting go till the very end (the very end of the credits!!!).

The film opens with jaw dropping drawings by Goya and ends the same way. After seeing this gallery of incredible artwork, one thinks that Goya must be the greatest painter on Earth from the beginning of times till tomorrow. Just looking at these pictures is worth the sitting time in front of the screen.

The way the Spanish Inquisition conducted its deeds makes it a wonder to see that the catholic church is still going on, since they were no different in their conduct throughout all the centuries they ruled the coop, to Hitler and his crimes during the Twentieth Century. But obviously the human brain is wired in ways still unknown to us.

I truly regret that this movie wasn't done in Spanish, because that took away the full flavor that Spain, one of the most colorful countries in all the World, could have enhanced its atmosphere enormously, and the proof we have it here and there, when we hear some exclamations shout in Spanish in the background and devastatingly so at the very end, when that last scene is accompanied by street children singing off camera a popular children's song in Spanish. All of a sudden the film becomes a 3D picture, now round and complete. We would experiment the same if a Shakespearean work was done in Spanish or Polish, or in any other language but English.

Language authenticity is primordial for certain works, I remember seeing "The Barefoot Contessa" in a Barcelona's movie-house and when Ava Gardner (A Spanish Gypsy Girl???!!!) said, in a very heavily accented Spanish: ¿Qué hace usted aquí, no tiene derecho a entrar..." well, it was impossible to hear the whole phrase because the collective laughter from the audience drowned the rest of it.

"Los fantasmas de Goya", a Masterpiece.
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Goya's Ghosts
ctelrap3 March 2011
I would not have appreciated this film so much if I had not been to the Prado (Art Museum) in Madrid. Goya's paintings and drawings of the horrors of war, and the Inquisition, are vividly displayed there. The integration of Goya's art and vision within the film itself is masterful. Add to that excellent costumes, cinematography ,and direction by Milos Foreman; plus incredible pre Oscar performances by Bardem and Portman,and you have a masterpiece worthy of Goya himself. Historically accurate, with a few minor flaws, the film resonates within the soul of the viewer and stands along such great epics of injustice as Schindler's List, and The Pianist.
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One of the best movies I have seen this year!
DeltaNu13 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie a few days ago in Germany and I was very surprised that many critics did not like it. It was the first movie I have ever watched without anybody leaving the room until the very last second. Usually I find myself alone watching the credits. Nathalie Portman has to portrait three completely different kinds of women, young Inés, old Inés and Alicia. I think that an actress that is able to do so convincingly has to be very talented. As young Inés she is lively and charming, likes to laugh and seems to be bright and without any concerns. Years of prison make her an old, dirty person who has lost her mind. She desperately wants to have her daughter back to whom she gave birth shortly after being imprisoned and raped (?). She doesn't realize that her daughter must be all grown up and 'adopts' a little baby she finds in a tavern. Alicia, her grown-up daughter, is a prostitute, strong-willed and without any feeling of shame. Javier Bardem plays Alicia's father, a very dominant man. At first he belongs to the inquisition, but when Inés' father proves his believes wrong, he needs to flee the country and turns to the French Revolution. He sticks to his new believes even when he faces death. Therefor, he's not the plain bad person he seems to be at the beginning, but somebody who is in search of the truth, power and money. He's a loving husband to his wife later on in the movie. Every character develops throughout the film in a very logic and convincing way. Even Goya, who is the linking chain between the other characters, turns from a lively and funny person into a serious one. I loved the way everybody was connected to each other and how blindness and a few wrong decisions can destroy lives.

I enjoyed every minute of this movie, it has great actors and a great story. I will definitely watch it again.
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Never mind Goya, this is a mishmash of plot lines and sensationalist drama
secondtake4 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Goya's Ghosts (2006)

I'm not sure why they felt they had to pivot this fictional story around a real painter, the great tormented Francisco Goya. Because the main story is completely fictional, about a young woman (Portman) and a priest (Bardem) and their interactions. And about the torture and imprisonment so common in Spain at the time. The conflict between the secular and the sacred, and between clergy and royalty, is part of the social and political intrigue the tries to light up the film.

But Goya really has nothing to do with all this, and even his character is a kind of guide or unifying thread through a lot of disturbing and meandering up and down events. What Goya does provide, I think, is a kind of realistic gruesomeness behind it all. That's a key part of his work, and perhaps it inspired the filmmakers. The time (late 1700s to early 1800s) was physically rough, and life was cheap, to be sure. The effects of torture and war are everywhere in Goya's work, and thus in this disappointing movie.

The plot, as such, is really a series of conflicts between these spheres of power and it doesn't suck you in for the long haul. What it does do well is create individual moments, with both terrific set design and with horrid grotesqueness. This might not be your cup of tea when it has no protagonist to quite get in with. Certainly among the three main characters, the young woman arouses purely pity (she is used, tortured, raped, and left to rot) and the priest arouses curiosity (at his changing politics and beliefs, his contradictory impulses). These kinds of stereotypes are not awful clichés, the movie doesn't sink to parody, but themes like this have been woven together better elsewhere. You get a sense the director, Milos Forman, was aiming for another "Amadeus," his masterpiece set around the same time, with its humanizing of famous figures and with the intrigues of power. But the writing here, partly by Forman, is daily bread stuff, nothing as inventive and ingenious as Peter Shaffer's play used for Mozart's story.

It should be said that Portman also plays another part, that of the illegitimate daughter of her first character, and of course she looks rather like her mom. Which of course makes the priest have a restrained frenzy--how lucky, he grows twenty years older and the woman of his dreams is reborn. It's a movie-making conceit, a fun one out of place here, though nice of Portman to show off her malleability.

The third character? Yes, our tour guide, Goya himself? The actor, Swedish star Stellan Starsgard, plays a bit of the everyman, not quite as focused and intense as you might suppose the real Goya to be. But who knows? What we do see of him has nothing to do with his actual life or work. Even the paintings he paints are just Goyaesque portraits of the other two characters. Great for some Hollywood memorabilia auction some day!

In the end this lands somewhere between thrilling, sensationalist, and awkward. But beautifully awkward.
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The Ghost Of Talent Past
writers_reign4 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'm struggling to find something positive to say about this turkey and it's not easy. It's always sad when artistes attempt to persevere when they've passed their sell-by date and this is nothing if not Forman's Buddy, Buddy - always assuming, of course, you're prepared to put him in the same league as Billy Wilder. There seems to be something of an international movement afoot to persist in shooting 'period' movies in semi-darkness and I can appreciate that in this case the interiors were attempting to replicate the sombre quality of the Old Masters - Rembrandt in particular - but daylight? In Madrid, yet? Did the sun never shine there in the 18th century. If you got it up at the Box Office in anticipation of learning something of Goya the Man or even Goya the painter you'd extract more hard knowledge from one short paragraph in a Gallery brochure; this time around Goya is merely a link between a corrupt priest, Brother Lorenzo (Javier Bardem) and the daughter of an affluent family, Ines (Natalie Portman) over a fifteen year period during which the girl is a victim of the Spanish Inquisition, impregnated by the priest and loses both her child and her mind whilst the priest flees to France and returns years later with Napoleon's army, a married man with a family. For reasons best known to Forman and the Producers the leading roles go to actors unknown outside their native countries; Bardem has more than a passing resemblance to Oliver Reed but plays from beginning to end like a Reed heavily sedated permitting not even a flicker of anger, passion, fire. The whole thing resembles nothing so much as one of the spaghetti westerns shot in Spain in the late sixties and like spaghetti the separate strands are all over the place. One to miss.
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A Costume Melodrama
pegasus32 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps I missed something, but I found GOYA'S GHOSTS to be a tedious costume melodrama. As to the story it was trying to tell, I found that a confusing mish-mash that went off in all directions. And perhaps it should have been made by a Spanish director with the appropriate languages subtitled rather than in unconvincingly accented English. I can't judge the historical veracity of the story but it seemed to move along with a similar "artist's model's tragic fate" plot line as GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING. Was the movie a commentary on the religious injustices of the Inquisition, false piety, torture then and now, or what???? I never seemed to be able to figure that one out. Natalie Portman's various characters also seemed ridiculously stereotypical. And ultimately the movie was crowned with the concluding melodrama of a disheveled Bardem's head and body hanging on the edge of cart heading off into the sunset…with Ines and Goya following along behind………Can't Milos Forman do better than that?
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