Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goya's Ghost: does torture work?

Goya’s Ghost
DVD, 2006, R

In this film the painter Goya becomes involved with the Spanish Inquisition when his muse, Ines, is arrested by the church for heresy. The most powerful episode with contemporary relevance is about torture (scenes 12-14, about 10 minutes.) Ines is tortured into confessing that she is secretly practicing Jewish rites. Her father, in an attempt to get her released, invites the inquisitor to dinner with the family. He tries a bit of bribery, then logical argument, but Lorenzo will not budge. The father then has his sons and servants torture the monk to extract a false confession . . but let’s not give it all away. This is an excellent film, well worth watching in its entirety, although the scene in which Ines is tortured is probably not suitable for a high school audience. We sometimes show Goya’s paintings (The Third of May 1808 and the Disasters of War etchings) as part of lesson six, and this excerpt works well there too.

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