Goya’s Ghosts is half what one expects from Milos Forman. As in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon, its protagonist is a daring iconoclast who stands intrepid against the uncomprehending conventionalists of his time. But it significantly departs from those earlier films by making its hero more an observer than an instigator. In fact, the film travels a surprising route, moving from the controversial nature of Francisco Goya’s art to the repressive tactics of the Spanish Inquisition in its waning days in the late eighteenth century to the hypocrisy of the Napoleonic invasion and occupation of Spain. By film’s end, Goya is deaf, still able to paint the madness around him, yet impotent to help those who need him.
But whether the film benefits from placing Goya (Stellan Skarsgard) on the sidelines is hard to say. It’s certainly refreshing to see Forman, who wrote the film with legendary screenwriter and Bunuel partner-in-crime Jean-Claude Carriere, forgo his usual tendency of beating viewers over the head in order to convince them of the immaculate saintliness of his outsider heroes.
Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Milos Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts.