Pilar López de Ayala & Manuela Arcuri in “Juana la Loca” [2001 Spain]

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Vicente Aranda’s “Juana la Loca” [Eng. Trans: Juana the Mad, Eng. Title: Mad Love], was the first of three period pieces he made in succession – the other two – “Tirante el Blanco” and “Carmen” are already featured here. It is also the best of the three, aided by an impeccable performance from Pilar López de Ayala, the actress who plays Juana, the unfortunate queen of Castile and daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella.

Based on a play, the film begins her story about four years after the new world discoveries, when sixteen year old Juana is sent off to Flanders to marry Philip of Burgundy to formalise a political alliance. The marriage however turns out to be a failure, for despite Juana being ‘madly’ in love with husband Philip, he was more interested in nothing more than usurping her power. Her father Ferdinand too conspires to restrict her powers, and rumours are circulated of Juana’s presumed insanity, questioning her fitness to govern. She’s confined in a convent for the next forty seven years, and remained queen in name only until her death. There are several major events covered in the film which I’ve skimming past – those interested can use this link to explore more of Juana’s story.

Needless to say, the film has pretty high production values, especially the costumes, set design and art direction. Just as impressive is the cinematography, direction and editing. The film was nominated for no less than twelve Goya awards the following year, of which it bagged three. Recommended Viewing.



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