Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Feast of the Goat and Rafael Trujillo

An essay by Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner on the film and on Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

I had thought it was practically impossible to bring to the screen The Feast of the Goat, the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa that was published in 2000 with extraordinary success. I was wrong. First at the Berlin International Film Festival and later in Madrid, a fine movie version was shown, scripted and performed in English and directed by Peruvian Luis Llosa, the novelist's brother-in-law and cousin.
Luis Llosa is an experienced filmmaker, renowned throughout Latin America for his TV novelas (soap operas) and in Hollywood for two adventure films that did well at the box office: The Specialist, with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone; and Anaconda, with Jennifer Lopez.
The performances in The Feast of the Goat were by a basically European cast: Isabella Rosellini; Tomás Milián, a Cuban Italian trained at the Actors Studio in New York City; a splendid Stephanie Leonidas; and Paul Freeman, a fine British character actor capable of conveying with a few gestures all the infamy, ambiguity and pain of a father who delivers his teenage daughter to the elderly dictator so he can deflower her in exchange for reinstating the father's political privileges.
Llosa's film tells two perfectly dovetailed stories, those of the dishonored girl and the conspiracy to kill Dominican dictator Rafael L. Trujillo, assassinated on May 30, 1961, by a group of former government supporters who had turned against The Goat, one of the nicknames the people gave the despotic general.
Aside from the anecdotes threaded through the plot, something even more important shows through in the film: the atmosphere of terror, sycophancy and savagery that pervaded Dominican society during three interminable decades of horror and degradation.

You can find the article here

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