Imagine the paintings and drawings of Goya in all their darkness and beauty coming to life - this is what Milos Forman's portrayed in his film. Goya witnesses the craziness of the Spanish royal court, the murderous brutal misrepresentation of the Catholic Church, the cruel madness of the Napoleonic War, along with the beauty of life passing. This is the film's main focus: to let us experience the time and place as if seen through Francisco de Goya's eyes. The locations, the customs, and the overall production reflects Spain of the late 18th century and early 19th century with the accuracy of a court painting. Although some of the performance is slightly forced, the film is compelling and dark.
The story actually does not have Goya as the focus. It is rather the story of a corrupt morality policeman of the 18th century imprisoning a young girl (Natalie Portman) on the unjust suspicion of practicing Judaism in secret. It is the story of a police state built on social injustice relying on pretended morals in order to save the system. This happens at the price of huge human suffering like the drama in the center of the story, and here is the painter as a witness, living the dilemma of becoming involved as a human or remaining a witness as an artist. We know what path Goya chose.
The overall movie was not very good, nor was the story line, although it is a little bit too melodramatic and too prone to coincidences. Forman is not so much focused on the drama or even in the historical detail. What he is busy with seems to be more recreating some of Goya's paintings and prints and tracing back the origin of inspiration of these masterpieces. In a way the film can be read as justification of the choice Goya made in life.
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