Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Worldly Desires of Intellect

Yo, la peor de todas/I, The Worst of All (1990) - Bemberg Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 9.17.18 AMScreen Shot 2023-01-02 at 9.26.56 AM Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 9.33.18 AM Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 9.55.43 AM Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 10.09.08 AM Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 10.09.14 AM Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 10.51.30 AM Based on a historical figure, Juana Inés de la Cruz, I, The Worst of All, tells trials and tribulations of a catholic nun who lived in the 17th Century Mexico. Sister Juana who was a poet, playwright, theologian and a philosopher. And because it was unorthodox for woman to be an inquisitive and brilliant intellectual in the age of inquisition, she was persecuted by the patriarchal church and forced to denounce her 'sins'. Maria Luisa Bemberg directs the unflinching version of Sister Juana's story. Assumpta Serna plays Sister Juana, whose brilliance was the subject of both envy and jealousy in the convent. She is afforded with a large library and fine material things, like a telescope and harpsicord within the convent walls. She makes a big impression on the viceroy sent from Spain to the new world, and strikes up the friendship with the Vicereine (played by Dominique Sanda) who feels a certain kinship with the Sister (convent/marriage = jail). The Viceroy and his wife become an ardent supporter and protector of Juana against the vicious archbishop who thinks Juana is a nothing but a harlot and heretic.

Things get dire when Viceroy is called back to Spain and replaced by another. With her protection gone, Sister Juana becomes the target of archbishop's fury. Bemberg paints rampant religious hypocracy and sexism where women's intelligence were lauded only on the surface but ignored and actively repressed under the eyes of the church. Many of her supporters turn their backs on her. Then the plague hits the convent, where she devotes herself to the caring for the dying. It is her only confessor, the unnamed Father who reappears at the end to hear her confession, of her pride, her self-love and praises. He tells her that it's her selflessness in the time of plague is what God wanted all along.

I, the Worst of All, is a searing indictment of hypocracy of the religious institution and clear eyed examination of the true devotion and worldly desires of intellect. What happened to Sister Juana is a real tragedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment