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Movie. Tagline of Goya's Ghosts - "Tell me what the truth is". Do you believe truth confessed under torture?

By WcP.Movie.Critic - Posted on 17 December 2008

movie: Goya’s Ghosts

In the award-winning "Goya's Ghosts," set in late 18th-century Spain, a desperate father trying to rescue his innocent daughter attempts to prove that if subjected to torture, even the most innocent man of cloth will confess to the most preposterous absurdities.

After Inés Bilbatua (one of the artist Francesco Goya’s muses) is arrested by the Holy Office, then tortured and forced to make a false confession, her father, Tomas, also a friend of Goya’s, extracts revenge on Lorenzo, forcing him to make a confession of his own.


From the movie:


Inquisitor: Were you served pork?
Inés Bilbatua: But I didn’t have any. I don’t like it. I don’t like the taste.
Inquisitor: Are you prepared to swear on the Holy Cross?
Inés Bilbatua: I swear on Jesus’ sacred wound, I’m telling you the truth.
Inés Bilbatua: And I would suppose you would not object if you are given an opportunity to prove it?
Inquisitor: No. I would be grateful. How would you like me to prove it?

(The girl was then brutally tortured - i.e., put to “The Question”.)

Inés Bilbatua’s parents in Goya’s Ghosts


(Inés’ family invites Brother Lorenzo and family friend Artist Francesco Goya to dine at their home to seek Lorenzo’s help with rescuing their daughter.)

Brother Lorenzo: I presume that you are anxious to have some news of your daughter.
Inés’ father, Tomas: Oh, yes. Extremely so. She has never, ever been away. Have you seen her?
Brother Lorenzo: (Regarding her release,) I couldn’t say. She must stand trial.
Inés’ father: Stand trial?
Brother Lorenzo: for what she has confessed.
Inés’ mother: What did she confess?
Brother Lorenzo: She confessed that she had secretly practiced Jewish Ritual of her forbears.
Inés’ mother: But that’s impossible. We are an old Christian family.
Brother Lorenzo: Correct me if I’m wrong. but the brothers in charge of the archives informed me that your grandmother’s great-grand father converted from Judaism to Christianity when he came to Spain From Amsterdam in 1624.
Inés’ father: but I’m the only person in the family who knows that.
Brother Lorenzo: Then why has your daughter confessed to it?
Inés’ father: Inés couldn’t confess to something she has no knowledge of.
Stellan Skarsgård - Francisco Goya
Inés’ brother: Was my sister put to “the Question” (torture)?
Brother Lorenzo: Yes, she was (tortured). She was in fine spirits.
Inés’ mother (shocked): My daughter was tortured.
Brother Lorenzo: She was put to “the Question”.
Inés’ father: I thought that kind of “Question” was abandoned years ago.
Brother Lorenzo: Yes, it was. It was. But now in these troubled times, in its quest for truth, the Church is bringing it back.
Inés’ brother: So, you maintain that a confession obtained by the means of, as you call it, “the Question”, is valid proof of anything?
Brother Lorenzo: This isn’t an opinion of one simple monk, sir. It is a tenet of Church teaching that confession obtained by “the Question” constitutes ultimate proof.
Artist Francesco Goya: I’m sorry. Father Lorenzo, but how can this sort of confession be ultimate proof? If I were tortured, I’d confess to anything. I’d confess I was the Turkish Sudan.
Brother Lorenzo: No, you wouldn’t.
Artist Francesco Goya: Yes, I would. I would confess anything to avoid pain.
Brother Lorenzo: No, you wouldn’t. You are God-fearing man, Goya, aren’t you?
Artist Francesco Goya: Of course, I am.
Brother Lorenzo: So, your fear of God would prevent you from making a false confession.
Artist Francisco Goya unveils a portrait
Artist Francesco Goya: But what if the pain obscured my senses. What if my fear of pain became bigger than my fear of God?
Brother Lorenzo: If you’re innocent of the charge, God would give you the strength to withstand the pain.
Inés’ father: Are you sure of that?
Brother Lorenzo: Yes.
Inés’ father: Forgive me, Father Lorenzo, but have you ever been put to “the Question” yourself?
Brother Lorenzo: Have I ever been?
Inés’ father: Have you ever been subjected to “the Question”?
Brother Lorenzo: Of course not.
Inés’ father: Do you think if you were and they ask you to confess something grotesquely absurd, say you were told to confess that you are really a monkey... Are you sure that God would grant you the fortitude to deny it, or would you rather confess to being a monkey to avoid the pain?
Artist Francesco Goya: (Laughs.) I know I would.
Inés’ father: I know you would. So would I.
(To Father Lorenzo -) Would you?
Artist Francesco Goya: Are you playing some sort of silly game with your guest? Nobody would ever ask Father Lorenzo to confess something so absurd.
Inés’ father: I would.
Javier Bardem as Brother Lorenzo in movie Goya’s Ghost
(To everyone’s puzzlement, he leaves the room.)
Artist Francesco Goya: Is he serious?
Inés’ mother: Oh, I’m sure he’s not. Alvaro, go get your father.
(To Goya and Lorenzo -) Sometimes I don’t understand his humor.
Artist Francesco Goya: Nobody does.
Brother Lorenzo: Nobody does.
Alvaro: Because my father doesn’t have a sense of humor.
Artist Francesco Goya: No, he doesn’t.
Inés’ father (who comes back into the room and reads from a piece of parchment in his hand):
“I, Lorenzo Casamares, hereby confess that contrary to my human appearance, I’m in fact the bastard son of a chimpanzee and an orangutan, and I have schemed to join the Church in order to do harm to the Holy Office.”
(To Brother Lorenzo -) Sign it.
Inés’ mother: This is a joke, Tomas, right?
Inés’ father: Angel, block the door.
Brother Lorenzo: Francisco, escort me out of this house.
Inés’ father: Stop Senor Goya.
Inés’ mother: You’re crazy.
Natalie Portman as Inés in the movie Goya’s Ghosts
Inés’ father: Did he let my daughter go?
(To Brother Lorenzo -) Did you let my innocent daughter go?!
(To others -) Keep him here.
Let Senor Goya go.
Inés’ father: Are you ready to sign the confession?
Bring him here.
(To Brother Lorenzo -) Sign it.
Tie his hands.
(To Brother Lorenzo -) Will you sign?
All right, let’s find out if God will give you strength to resist “The Question.”


Director: Milos Forman
Runtime: 113 min

Best International Movie (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA); Goya Awards; Satellite Awards

Inés thrown in prison; Brother Lorenzo visits

Javier Bardem (Brother Lorenzo)
Natalie Portman (Inés/Alicia)
Stellan Skarsgard (Goya)
Randy Quaid (King Carlos IV)
Michael Lonsdale (Grand Inquisitor)
José Luis Gómez (Bilbatua)
Mabel Rivera (Maria Isabel Bilbatua)


Images courtesy of IMP Awards,, and Samuel Goldwyn Films

Original Source: European Film Award Reviews and IMDB

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