The following movies, Marathon Man and Goya's Ghosts show in very compelling ways the insanity of torture and how it never leads to worthwhile intelligence but is an outstanding tool to demonize an individual subject.
Author William Goldman
Country United States
Genre(s) Conspiracy thriller novel
Publisher Delacorte Press
Publication date 1974
Media type print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 309 pp
Followed by Brothers
Marathon Man is a 1974 paranoid thriller novel by William Goldman. In 1976 it was made into a film of the same name starring Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, and Roy Scheider and directed by John Schlesinger.
The former Nazi SS dentist at Auschwitz, Dr. Christian Szell (inspired by Josef Mengele, the last doctor in charge of Auschwitz II), now residing in Uruguay, must smuggle many diamonds out of the United States after the accidental death of his brother in New York City. This involves a secret intelligence agency named "Division".
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, Thomas "Babe" Levy is a graduate student in history and an aspiring marathon runner. He is haunted by his father's suicide, provoked by the HUAC witchhunts of Senator McCarthy decades earlier, when he and his elder brother were boys. Unbeknownst to Babe, his brother works in Division.
Both the novel and the film contain a graphic depiction in which Szell tortures Babe by drilling into his teeth, without anesthetic, and repeatedly asking the question, "Is it safe?" Babe does not know what the question means, nor the interrogator's identity. In the course of torturing him so, Szell offers him anesthetic clove oil as inducement to cooperate.
In popular culture
The quotation Is it safe? is ranked #70 on the 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes list.
Promotional poster for Goya's Ghosts.
Directed by Miloš Forman
Produced by Xuxa Producciones (Spain)
The Saul Zaentz Company I
Written by Jean-Claude Carrière
Starring Natalie Portman
Music by Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer
Cinematography Javier Aguirresarobe
Editing by Adam Boome
Distributed by Kanzaman S.A.l (Spain)
Release date(s) November 8, 2006
Running time 114 min
Goya's Ghosts is a 2006 Spanish film directed by Miloš Forman, and produced by Xuxa Producciones (Spain) and by Saul Zaentz, and written by Miloš Forman and Jean-Claude Carrière. The film stars Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, and Stellan Skarsgård, and was shot on location in Spain during late 2005. The film was written, produced and performed in English language although it is a Spanish production.Contents
The beginning of the film is set in the year 1792, as Spain reels amidst the turmoil and upheaval of the French Revolution. Francisco Goya is a renowned painter, who, among others, does portraits for the royal family as the Official Court Painter to the King and Queen.
The Spanish Inquisition is disturbed by part of Goya's work. Brother Lorenzo is hiring Goya to paint a portrait and defends him, saying that his works are not evil, they just show evil. He recommends the Church step up the fight against anti-Roman Catholic practices. He requests and is put in charge of intensifying the Inquisition.
When posing in Goya's studio, Lorenzo asks Goya about a young model he uses, Inés (Natalie Portman), daughter of a rich merchant, Tomas Bilbatua (José Luis Gómez). Inés is spotted by Inquisition spies (trained by Lorenzo) declining a dish of pork in a tavern. The Holy Office of the Inquisition orders Inés to come to the Office. There she is arrested and accused of "judaizing", i.e. spreading Jewish rituals, because she did not eat pork the other evening. She is tortured ("put to The Question"), confesses, and is imprisoned.
Tomas begs Goya for help, who in turn asks Lorenzo to find out about Inés' situation. He visits her, telling her that he is about to help her, then rapes her. At a dinner in Tomas' home, where he and Goya are guests, Lorenzo reports to Tomas that he visited Inés and that she loves her family. Lorenzo defends "The Question": he argues that if the accused is really innocent, God will give him or her the strength to deny guilt, so a person who confesses must be guilty. Tomas does not agree: he argues that people will confess to anything under physical torture, and Goya agrees. To prove this Tomas draws up a statement which says that Lorenzo confesses to being a monkey, and, with the help of his sons, does not let Lorenzo leave unless he agrees to sign it. Goya pleads for Lorenzo without success; Goya is allowed to leave and does. They torture Lorenzo and he signs. Tomas promises to destroy the document after Inés is released. He gives Lorenzo a large amount of gold for the Church, hoping it will persuade the Holy Office to consider leniency.
Lorenzo pleads for Inés, but the Church, while accepting the money, refuses, since Inés has confessed. Tomas brings the document to the king Carlos IV. Lorenzo is now an embarrassment to the Spanish Church and is banished. He flees. Lorenzo's portrait is confiscated by the Church, and is set on fire in public.
Fifteen years pass, and Goya is at the height of his creativity, but he has become deaf. The French army under Napoleon invades Spain, abolishes the Inquisition and sets the prisoners free. Lorenzo becomes Napoleon's chief prosecutor against his former Spanish allies. (This twist in Lorenzo's allegiance might have been inspired by the career of Juan Antonio Llorente.) Inés, who was said to be tried, has actually been left to perish in the dungeons until now. She has given birth to a daughter in prison, and turns to Goya for help in finding her child, who was taken away from her immediately after birth. Lorenzo is the father, which is embarrassing for him, and he sends Inés, whose mental sanity has suffered in prison, to an asylum. Lorenzo searches for their daughter in an orphanage, and he learns from the nuns her name is Alicia. She had run away from the orphanage a few years ago.
In a garden park, Goya finds a prostitute named Alicia (also played by Natalie Portman) who looks identical to Inés. He goes to Lorenzo asking for Inés so he can reunite her with her daughter. Lorenzo goes to see Alicia, asking her to leave Spain for America, but she refuses the offer. Goya finds Inés, and bribes the manager of an asylum to release her. Lorenzo arrests a group of prostitutes in an inn, including Alicia, to deport them to America. Later, Inés finds an abandoned baby of Alicia in that inn and holds the baby as her own daughter.
The British conquer the French troops. Lorenzo is arrested as he is fleeing. The Spanish reinstate the Inquisition, which sentences Lorenzo to death. Church officials are willing to pardon him if he repents, and they urge Lorenzo to do so until the last moment at the site of the execution in the city center. Meanwhile, Inés is present in the crowd with the baby and calls Lorenzo enthusiastically to show him their daughter. Alicia watches the spectacle from the balcony of City Hall with her new fiancé, a British officer who rescued her from the slave caravan before it reached the ships bound for America. Refusing repentance, Lorenzo meets with his death. The film ends with a cart taking Lorenzo's body away, escorted by Inés and the baby, children singing songs, and with Goya following behind calling to her.
Although the historical setting of the movie is authentic, the story itself is pure fiction.
Director Forman states that, "There was no film ever made about this particular [historical] period." He may be referring to the invasion of Spain specifically, as there are certainly other films about the Peninsular War (e.g. The Pride and the Passion).