The Inquisition is enjoying a revival in a
Meanwhile, her distraught father, desperate for news of her,
enlists the officious priest Lorenzo (Javier Bardem) to inquire about
her well-being. He takes
advantage of her delicate psyche, ostensibly praying with her, but soon
rendering her into an even more delicate condition.
He, of course, is unrepentant, smugly conveying to her family the
deceit that she is being treated well in prison.
When Lorenzo gets a taste of his own torturous medicine, we find
ourselves believing that a certain kind of vigilante justice was served,
but he soon escapes, while the French Revolution fans the flame of chaos
throughout the land. Goya’s
grotesque renderings prefigure the cubism of Picasso in their hideous
distortions, even as the landscape of human decency suffers the
rapacious conquests of Napoleon, who precipitously invades
Meanwhile, our formerly gorgeous young lady is left to waste away
in chains, and when she is finally freed by the conquering French, she
seeks only the daughter they took away from her so many lonely years
ago. Goya tries to help her,
but she is half-crazed with the results of her lengthy confinement, and
she is devastated by the discovery that her family has been slaughtered
and all their possessions confiscated.
Lorenzo rides in with the French army, somehow now the spokesman
for their Revolutionary fervor, but when faced with the embarrassment of
his previous indulgence, he seeks to discard the evidence, by rounding
up all the hapless orphans-turned-prostitutes and shipping them off to
But the tides of war again undergo a sea change, as the hated French are overthrown, and this time Lorenzo is tried by the same clergy whom he had summarily imprisoned when he enjoyed secular authority. Ines crazily imagines that they can begin anew as one big, happy family. Meanwhile, the teenage daughter she’s never met is not afraid to use her wiles to attract the attention of an English officer, and somehow the disproportionate outlines of Goya’s Ghosts seem to better represent reality than the solemn, stiff, portraits of pretentious royalty that earned his miserable living.
“Goya’s Ghosts” is the kind of film that will not be popular with church audiences, because it features cruel personal violence, gratuitous nudity, lots of victims but no heroes, and presents the Church at its absolutely depraved worst. Nevertheless, there are some valuable reminders here for the believers, not the least of which is that that which we so solemnly believe to be righteous may very well turn out to merely our own pitiful pride.
Questions For Discussion:
1) How much influence should the Church have over the culture?
2) What can the Church proclaim with certainty, and when is it obligated to admit a lack of expertise?
3) When is the Church at its best, and when is it at its worst?
4) To what extent should the Church teach that its doctrine is the only way to salvation?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian