Goya en Burdeos

Goya en Burdeos (1999), written and directed by Carlos Saura, also uses the imagery from Kubrick’s 2001. This is all the more striking in that throughout the movie the scenes not only display his paintings, and show the creation of his paintings in context, but they sometimes come alive as tableuxs to become scenes. Yet for the death of Goya the available material would have been the early (1788) St. Francis Borja at the Deathbed of an Impenitent, and this is not what Saura wanted.

Instead we find Adam’s gesture copied by Kubrick from the Sistine ceiling. (See the image in the September 3 post below.)


Goya says: “My life has gone by like a gust of wind. I’ve forgotten how I was as a child, I’ve forgotten how I was as a youth, and now, Who am I now?”

He raises his hand further into the light and uses it to cast a shadow, and draw a spiral around his own face with the shadow of his finger. Spirals recur throughout the film. In fact, from here there is a cut to a shot up a spiral staircase down which is daughter runs to come to him.


Where in 2001 and in Soderbergh’s Solaris the finger in the image points to a creator/savior figure, here Goya designates himself, but with an enigmatic spiral movement that fits the “Who am I now?”

Next, where the monolith in Kubrick’s image would be, at the foot of the bed, a figure appears off camera and casts a shadow over the bed and over Goya. We know who this figure is because in a earlier scene the figure walked out of a painting and toward Goya’s bed, and Goya addressed it as Death.


At this point Saura does allow himself a quotation from The Impenitent. (Notice the similar position of the right arm, and the two pillows with frills around them) But by inserting it into images from Kubrick, and other insertions, he has altered the meaning. Where the demons appear in The Impenitent, there is now Goya’s daughter and her shadow, and St. Francis Borja has become Death.


Saura’s film then disolves to an empty white bed, similar to the 2001 fetus on the bed shot, but without the fetus, and then to a scene of birth, where a camera enters the room from falling show outside through a window to this view:


This is the last shot in the film, and is parallel to the star child image in Kubrick’s.


Saura’s film closes with a card quoting Andre Malraux: “After Goya modern painting begins.” Saura, then, is pointing to the birth of something new. With the death of Goya comes a discontinuity and modern painting appears.


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