24 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Riddick Trilogy

House of Spirits

The movie “The House of Spirits” was directed by the Danish Film maker Bille August, based on the novel of Isabel Allende. The movie features Jeremy Irons as Etebian, Teri Polo as Rosa Del Valle, Meryl Streep as Clara, Rosa’s sister, Winona Rider as Estebian’s daughter, Antonio Banderas as Estebian’s son-in-law and a hotheaded revolutionary, Joaquin Martinez as Estebian’s illegitimate son who comes back for revenge and Glenn Crose as Ferula, Estebian’s sister.

A brief summary:

The story of the movie is essentially a melodrama that encompasses three generations and contains the elements of revenge, violence, love and telekinesis. The Movie’s plot is set up at Chile and begins in the year 1926. A young man called Estebian falls in love with the daughter of bourgeoisie parents, Rosa De Valle. Being poor himself her parents tell him to become rich before marrying their daughter. Estebian’s hard efforts in the gold mines of Argentina gave him the opportunity to fulfill their demand. However Rosa is killed via poison, as predicted by her sister Clara who has some telekinesis power of the occult. Estebian then moves to Trés Marias and spends around 20 years of his life in transforming the house into a flourishing mansion by exploiting the poor laborers. When he returns to city he meets Clara, who, despite taking a vow of silence speaks for the first time telling Estebian “You have come to propose marriage to me”. They came back to Trés Marias and bore a daughter Blanca who married a short-tempered revolutionary, Pedro. Meanwhile Estebian banishes his sister from the house, beats up his wife and rapes a peasant woman while Argentina is on the verge of revolution. The product of this rape was an angry young man who initially convinces his father to send him to a military school and hence returns with a mind full of hatred and revenge to the Trés Marias. (“House of Spirits”, 1994)

Different dimensions

People with an appetite for such an eventful family saga, would definitely find the movie worth watching twice. The novel too is great to read through. The characters did not have any outstanding role to play but the combined effect did have the potential to move the audience. (“Isabel Allende”, 2008) While Antonio Banderas, as the jeune premier had a trivial role that gave him enough scope of proving himself intense. But nothing influential or attention seeking was traced in any of the roles except that of Estebian and Clara. The roles of the two Hispanics – Miss Alonso and Mr. Martinez were rather entertaining although their roles were undemanding. Despite giving a restrained performance, Meryl Streep’s dialogues and presence held some remote appeal. Glenn Close was dressed up quite boldly compared to her role and gave a shine of unconventional background. Clara’s presentations have rightly suited to bear the power of telekinesis. The movie, though was stretched out did have a substantial story line to hold back the audience. If one considers the Danish film maker’s previous pieces of marvels like Pelle the Conqueror and the appreciated The Best Intentions, from a script by Ingmar Bergman, then “House of Spirits” is a show that holds some difference and would lay large impact on the emotional and temperamental mindset as well as provide much to the calculating mind. Some critics also think that a Dane has no business making a movie about South America, but I personally feel it reflects the versatility and impartiality of a filmmaker.

Aside from these, the rape scene that exposed nudity drew criticisms from the worried parents as this famly oriented movie could not be watched comfortably with a family including children. It also revealed some violence that a young mind would not be able to take. Hence the target audience or rather the viable audience of the movie would be limited. Despite all, the set of audience would defnitely cherish watching the film that would offer a splendid dish for the human soul. Some psychological food of solace might be imparted to the audience as the illegitimate son of Estebian, who has raped his mother, comes back for vengeance after being trained in a distant military school by his father at his request. Inspite of his evilry some justification can still be found in his actions.

The exteriors, which were shot in Portugal might not have looked like Chile, but were certainly gorgeous, being photographed by Jorgen Persson, the Swedish cinematographer. Anna Asp, Bergman’s former production designer along with the photographer has made the settings a spectacular thing to watch. Thus apart from the star cast and direction, the setting and photography is also noteworthy.


Jeremy Irons truly brings out the facets of the character of Estebian via his passionate performance adjusting himself completely and suitably to the changing demands of the role throughout the movie. Clara is gifted with telekinetic ability and she reflects her dedication to the power though does not use it too often. The vow of silence taken by her for a long term may somewhat give muteness of the female character a lot of focus not just because of the oddness of the role but also the deeper expressions revealed from beneath that mask of silence. The overall impact of the movie would be long lasting and moving to the human mind and has a large variety to offer on a single plate.


  1. “House of Spirits”, August, Bille, Maria Conchita Alonso, Antonio Banderas, Sarita Choudhury, Glenn Close, Miriam Colon, 1994, retrieved on February 19 2008 from:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqlNuX0FVRo
  2. “Isabel Allende”, Mostly Fiction, 2008, retrieved on February 19 2008 from: http://www.mostlyfiction.com/latin/allende.htm
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