6/10/14: Goya’s Ghosts


On 4/23/77, I went to my very first Grateful Dead concert. It was so brilliant that I went to well over 100 more Grateful Dead & Jerry Garcia Band shows. When I saw my father, with whom I had a tenuous relationship, that next morning, I was excited & wanted to tell him about the show. I already had many cassette tapes of both their albums & bootlegs of their concerts. ‘Here, Father, why don’t you listen to American Beauty. It’s acoustic folk songs; Americana. I think you’ll like it.’, I said. “‘And these are actually for sale in music stores?’, he asked. ‘Yes & bootlegs of the concerts are for sale in the streets as well, Father. They did a big tour of Europe in ’72 & they’re sold there too. Rome, Mexico. Everywhere! The band is very important!’ ‘This! This is what the world is turning to? What is the name of their leader again?’ ‘Jerry Garcia. We consider him the greatest musician alive.’ ‘Their cover art is quite disturbing, I must say.’ Disturbing? Perhaps. But the music is the true face of genius today.’ ‘Maybe in your world, Paul! How can you call this demonic, drug-oriented filth this Jerry is selling the true face of genius today? He’s an agent of the darkest powers! Granted that he’s played in arenas. He sings of broken angels, yes! But when you go to these shows & see the girls that are there, who do you see? Harlots! Those are whores smiling down at the stage!’ [Flip over a drawer of cassettes] ‘I assert to you that Jerry is a valuable member of the artistic & intellectual community! And what is your response? Condemn this great American artist instead? Tell ya what: We’ll discuss it in 37 years!’”

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You see, the work of a great artist is often rejected by a segment of the establishment of the era. The topic of today’s Blog, Miloš Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts from 2006, touches on the topic. It stars: Javier Bardem as Brother Lorenzo, a high-ranking member of the Spanish Inquisition; Natalie Portman as Inés; and Stellan Skarsgård as Francisco Goya. Goya was commissioned to paint both of their portraits, Lorenzo’s to the chagrin of the Inquisitors. But King Carlos IV (Randy Quaid) considers him Spain’s premier painter & has commissioned him to paint a portrait of the Queen (Blanca Portillo). Forman is a master director. In Goya’s Ghosts, he uses man’s first great invention to symbolize both the good & evil. And note who represents good & who evil; and which of the uses passes the ultimate test…Time.

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This excellent film was not well received by American film critics, perhaps because of its historical inaccuracy. It was shot in Spain & nominated for 3 Goya Awards, the Spanish equivalent of the Academy Awards: Best Make-Up & Hairstyles; Costume Design; and Special Effects. But what I find most interesting is the cinematography. Cinematography, from 2 Greek words meaning to record movement, is the scientific art of motion picture photography. The Cinematographer (or Director of Photography) must capture the essence of the Director & Production Designer’s storyboarded ideas & moods to film or some digital medium thru the integration of visual effects & lighting techniques. Miloš’ films are always visually beautiful. Using special filters & lenses, Goya’s Ghosts’ Cinematographer, Javier Aguirresarobe, makes the entire movie look like a Goya painting. Stopping the action anywhere in the film, you’ll see the green & gold undertones that make Goya so recognizable. So watch the trailer below then add the great Miloš Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts to your Netflix Queue. 4 Stars!

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