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Goya in Bordeaux

This Spanish film directed by Carlos Saura is a visually strong vignette biography of the famed painter Francisco de Goya. As beautiful as the film looks, the story telling sometimes comes to a halt and veers into purely visual episodes that don't present a coherent narrative.

On the upside, Saura uses unique visuals in places to present Goya's experiences as he is aging in exile in France, and for a person knowledgeable about Goya's life (and about his deafness) Saura is effective in showing what happens to Goya as he struggles with the limitations of aging and of his lack of hearing.

The film shows Goya reliving his life through daydreaming (and nightmares) about his long history as the Spanish Court Painter and as a witness to the violent history of Spain, Goya's time-period being one of upheaval and invasion by Napolean's soldiers.

The downside of the film is that it would require a prior knowledge of Goya's personal history to effectively understand his biography through this movie. Another problem might be that Saura uses (without hedging) many of the unsubstantiated facts about Goya's personal life (for example the supposed love affair with the Duchess of Alba, played in this film by Maribel Verdu) to fill out his story. So, if you don't believe the rumors (which most Goya's historians don't accept as true) Saura's film is that much more fantasy versus biography.

Goya in Bordeaux stars Francisco Rabal as Goya in the exile sections, and Jose Coronado as the younger Goya in the Spanish Court, enjoying his rise to fortune and overwhelmed by the storm of war descending on the country.

AMAZON DVD: Goya in Bordeaux

Original Page Aug 2014 | Updated April 2018

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