Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
Written by Alain Godard
Cinematography by Robert Elswit
Production Design by Dante Ferretti
Edited by Dylan Tichenor
Music by John Barry
Javier Bardem as Rodrigo
Rachel Weisz as Aurora
Jeremy Irons as Rafael Godoy
Carmen Maura as Manuela Godoy
Vincent Gallo as the shepperd
Jean Reno as Judge Reyes
Alfred Molina as Vicar Olmedo
Tagline: "We all are condemned to the eternal expiation of our sins"
Synopsis: The last days of the Spanish Inquisition in the beginning of the XVIII century have created a climate of hope to the people, but for the same reason they have to be under caution. Rodrigo has never been an ambitious man. He has always dreamed with a simple life besides his wife Aurora, waiting for the long time birth of his first baby, studying medicine and helping the town doctor in his free time. He wants to leave his actual job as the house keeper of the Godoy Family’s mansion, a job leaved as heritage by his father after his death. Rodrigo feeds and takes care of the horses too, dreaming with a life of his own since he was born there 36 years before. He feels that place as his home but it isn’t, and it never will. The relation with the, flogged by the tragedy, Godoy family has been always cordial but distant, marking the social difference between them, but after the death of his parents there is big tension between him and the family man Rafael Godoy. Rodrigo never shows his fury because he doesn’t want to lose everything. Rafael and his wife Manuela have very influent friends in the synod and they can be very dangerous if they want. Rodrigo never notices Aurora’s insinuations about Rafael and how he use to be too affectionate to her. He only asks Aurora for time to flee from this sickening city. Rafael demands more work in the house and Rodrigo hasn’t got time for anything else, not even for thinking, so that dreamed day never comes and never will.
One night, when he returns from his lessons, he finds a stream of blood in the door of the house. He knows very well what has happened and he complained for haven’t done anything before. He founds Rafael’s corpse inside but not her wife’s. She must be alive, he hopes so and he takes a forceful decision. He carries Rafael’s body and buries it in the garden but without hiding the tracks. He tries to be seen by anybody and he gets it because there is someone looking at him, hidden in the church’s belfry.
In the deep forest a lonely shepperd finds a wounded woman beside the river. She is almost dead so he decides to take her to his humble house. Days after she awakes besides a stranger but completely treated. She finally trusts that weird mute man, who feeds and takes care of her. He offers refugee and he never asks her about what happened.
Rodrigo is condemned to death for a double murder without any doubt, because of the witness of the vicar. First of all he is tortured and forced to declare his guilty to the inquirers. The judge Reyes, is not convinced because they can’t find Aurora’s body or any other incriminatory evidence but Rodrigo is declared guilty because of the pressure of the inquirers. Everything is ready the day of Rodrigo’s execution, but the sudden death of the old hangman will change everything as an unquestioned last will. The warden and the judge, as an act of kindness, make him the secret proposition of turning into the new hangman of the town, replacing both bodies in the execution.
After a while full of disturbing and indiscriminate deaths that are torturing Rodrigo’s mind, Aurora gives birth a boy some miles away from him. Little by little she starts being blackmailed by the shepperd who needs more from her. Because of the continuous denial he finally decides to denounce her to the yerm widow Manuela Godoy as an act of spite. Aurora will be condemned to death, sharing her last days and her last confidences with a mysterious, sad and afflicted man who sleeps in the next cell, the man she once loved and who is going to take her life away without knowing.
What the Press would say:
“Condemnation” is an USA-Spain-UK-France co-production, filmed in the English language with a very international cast and crew that gives to this horrifying story a very creative dimension, thanks to its multicultural team. Maybe its length could be a problem to some people but the story gets more and more dark and dense from its first half hour of footage. The initial part of the movie is a rich description of Rodrigo and Aurora’s world, the pressure of living in the wrong time where there is no place for dreamers. Each one is very strong but together they are invincible, or that is what they though. This film is a reflection about the inconformity, about the possibility of change things but also about the human fears about losing the things that we have create. The egoism, the envy and the own survival appears when the different characters don’t get what they want or they think they deserve.
Javier Bardem plays Rodrigo, a man condemned to the suffering, a penitent man who doesn’t fight at time and who loses everything he once dreamed. At first this role was thought by the writer for a younger actor but the strength that a man as Bardem could give to Rodrigo convinced him because this character have to stand so many pain and sorrow and it was interesting to see a big man as him playing this tremendous character.
Rachel Weisz plays Aurora, a very strong woman with an important protagonism in the story because she is a woman in love who fights for the dreams of her husband, who keeps silent about the disagreeable situations she has to live. But things get uncontrolled and she has to fight for herself too because the dreamed days never comes and she can’t stand more abuses. Rachel Weisz has get into the skin of a Spanish woman and she worked his accent spending long whiles in the country, though the film has been filmed in English. She had to fight for this role because there where some great Spanish actress beside it, but Jean-Jacques Annaud had no doubts about to contract a British actress to play Aurora. They have worked together before in the film “enemy at the gates” and she played a Russian woman and she was perfect in the role. Jean-Jacques Annaud is a very perfectionist director and nothing is out of his control. He has documented about the history to be loyal to the past reality and he has a great crew to get the results he have imagine in his mind from the beginning. Jeremy Irons, Vincent Gallo and Carmen Maura play three characters with the hard difficulty of being the darkest part of this story. They evolve from a nice and trustful mask to a terrible and merciless face full of greed and envy. All the set creates a good and very strong film with a great directing, an amazing cinematography, a meticulous art direction, lovely music and terrific interpretations, that condemned this film to the altars of the indispensable films.
Best Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Best Original Screenplay: Alain Godard
Best Leading Actor: Javier Bardem
Best Leading Actress: Rachel Weisz
Best Supporting Actor: Jeremy Irons
Best Supporting Actor: Vincent Gallo
Best Supporting Actress: Carmen Maura