What You Need To Know:
The intricately directed storyline in GOYA IN BORDEAUX, which regrettably includes a scene of explicit nudity and sex, captivates and entrances. Moreover, the beauty of the cinematography by four-time Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro is unrivaled. However, it becomes clear that Goya is possessed by all the intellectual flaws of the Romantic Movement: his passion literally haunts him; his lust for life ravishes him; and, his desire to hold onto the past and his romantic vision of the world keeps him from living in the present. In fact, he is lost, adrift in the confusion of a worldview without God
(RoRoRo, C, H, V, SS, NNN, A, D, M) Romantic worldview with some Christian & humanist elements; no foul language; violent visions of war which are dark & muted & supernatural fears; one scene of depicted fornication between clothed man & naked woman; full lingering female nudity; drinking; smoking & discussion of drugs; and, envy & deception.
Francisco De Goya is reputedly the father of modern art, or, as Andre Malroux said, “after Goya, modern painting begins.” The extraordinarily well-crafted and beautiful GOYA IN BORDEAUX shows the 82-year-old painter in his very last days, living in exile in Bordeaux with the last of his lovers, Leocadia, and their daughter, Rosario.
In the very first scene, Goya wakens with a start to wonder where he is, his face ravaged by age. He wanders in his nightgown like a ghost through a strange environment, out onto the street where he has a vision of his only true love, the Duchess of Alba, until he is woken by a buggy which almost hits him. Cared for by his lover and their daughter, Goya reflects upon his past. In a series of flashbacks, the story returns often to the present, which is 1820s Bordeaux.
Goya as a young man had an intense desire to be the official court painter for the King of Spain. Attaining that status, he became disillusioned with the monarchy and became a radical, looking to revolutionary France to free Spain. Instead, France conquered Spain and Napoleon Bonaparte installed his cronies in the Spanish government.
Even so, Goya tells his daughter that his life was a miracle. He almost died by the ravages of an incurable sickness at the age of 46, but instead recovered, though completely deaf. The sickness, however, became a turning point in his work and opened up the world of his dark paintings, which has made him famous throughout history.
While in Charles IV’s court, he fell in love with the Duchess of Alba, who later was poisoned by the Queen and the Royal Secretary. His daughter points out, “Wasn’t the Royal Secretary your friend?” Goya recalls that he didn’t have the courage to confront his powerful friend.
In these flashbacks, Goya’s famous paintings come alive. Moments of intense realism are mixed with visions of horrifying proportions. Although Goya considers his life a miracle, he is possessed by the temptations of the flesh, and he paints at night because of his preoccupation with darkness.
GOYA IN BORDEAUX is a masterpiece in biography. The intricate storyline captures and holds one’s attention. The direction captivates and entrances. Moreover, the beauty of the cinematography by four-time Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro is unrivaled. Furthermore, the production is done with a very deft touch, and it does not belabor any political perspective.
However, it becomes clear that Goya is possessed by all the intellectual flaws of the Romantic Movement: his passion for the Duchess of Alba literally haunts him; his desire for fame consumes him; his lust for life ravishes him; his desire to hold onto the past keeps him from living in the present; and, his romantic vision of the world terrifies him. The one thing he needs is to understand the implication of the miracle that he survived a deadly disease, and the implication is that God exists, loves him and has a plan for his life. Not understanding that implication means that he’s possessed by fear and longing, which make his work so modern. In fact, he is the first postmodern painter, adrift in the confusion of a worldview without God. Lost without faith.
The primary caution about GOYA IN BORDEAUX is the one sex scene with the Duchess of Alba. He paints her fully nude, and she is the focus of the camera’s attention. Although this scene is brief, it is excessive.
Aside from that scene, one would like to commend this movie for its incredible craftsmanship and artistic quality. However, even without this scene, extreme caution is required because of the worldview, which can lead indiscriminate viewers further away from the truth of God’s salvation.