What You Need To Know:
Christians should be willing to admit there were points in church history where evil happened. The Bible repeatedly tells how the Jews disobeyed God and then repented. The church, made up of flawed human beings, is not perfect. There are ample horror stories that can be told, but for all the evil, the church is largely responsible for whatever civility we enjoy in the world today. GOYA’S GHOSTS dwells on a horrible period in Spanish and French history. The movie is absolutely gut wrenching, but the depiction of violence, nudity and depravity (including depravity of the church) fails to be redemptive. GOYA’S GHOSTS is an excessive movie because of this.
(HH, Pa, C, B, AbAbAb, VVV, SS, NNN, A, MMM) Strong humanist worldview with Pagan and Christian elements, but with very strong elements of anti-Christian behavior by Catholic Priests including false accusations, torture, forcing false confessions, rape, and executions; no foul language but there is some discussion of private parts in relation to circumcision; very strong, extremely disturbing violence involved in Inquisition tortures and abuses and reprisals during French Revolution; rape scene of priest against woman; full female nudity and lots of nudity shown in artwork; minor alcohol use, such as wine at dinner; and, grotesque immorality and hypocrisy shown by priests intent on flaunting their power by instilling fear.
GOYA’S GHOSTS is a well-made look at the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition and the French Revolution, both famous for their horrors. It’s enough to send you home rejoicing you’re a 21st Century American.
The movie opens with priests examining some of the famous artist Goya’s gruesome prints. Besides being a brilliant and popular portrait artist, Goya was something of a precursor to political cartoonists. His prints took strong political positions. Brother Lorenzo admits he was having Goya paint his portrait, but to show his dedication to the church he calls for an increase in church efforts to root out heretics.
Ines, a beautiful young woman from a good family (who happens to pose for Goya’s favorite painting) is spotted choosing not to eat pork at a tavern. She is summoned before the Inquisition, accused of being a Judaizer and tortured until she confesses. She is locked naked in a dungeon. With Goya’s help, the girl’s father invites Lorenzo to dinner. He refuses to release the daughter because she confessed. The father insists that Lorenzo sign a confession of heresy. He and his sons then torture the priest until he signs. Lorenzo is told that if he fails to get the daughter released, his confession will be used against him.
The members of the Inquistion refuse to let the daughter go because it would undermine the validity of all forced confessions. Lorenzo visits Ines and, in the process of “praying” with her, rapes her. Lorenzo flees to France to keep from being burned at the stake.
Fifteen years later, Napoleon marches into Spain and Lorenzo returns as a stooge ruler for the French. He frees those kept in the dungeon, including Ines who had Lorenzo’s daughter while in prison. This threatens Lorenzo’s new position of authority as well as the family he wound up having in France. Throughout all the proceedings, Goya repeatedly attempts to help Ines and her family while avoiding a death sentence of his own.
Christians should be willing to admit there were points in church history where evil things happened. The Bible repeatedly tells how the Jews disobeyed God and then repented. The church, made up of flawed human beings, is not perfect today. There are ample horror stories that can be told, but for all the evil, the church is largely responsible for whatever civility we enjoy in the United States today. GOYA’S GHOSTS dwells on a horrible period in Spanish and French history. The movie is absolutely gut wrenching, but it is not redemptive.
MOVIEGUIDE® finds GOYA’S GHOSTS to be excessive. The violence, nudity and depravity (including depravity of the church) fails to be redemptive. As Christians, we are commanded to think on good things. There is value in learning from mistakes but there is little value in just wallowing in them.