La Fiesta del chivo (The Feast of the Goat) (2005)
Director: Luis Llosa.
Starring: Tomas Milian (Rafael Leonidas Trujillo), Isabella Rossellini (Urania), Paul Freeman (Agustín Cabral), Juan Diego Botto (Amadito García Guerrero), Stephanie Leonidas (Uranita), Shawn Elliott (Johnny Abbes), Murphy Guyer (Turk), David Zayas (Antonio de la Maza), Steven Bauer (Juan José Viñas), Eileen Atkins (Aunt Adelina).
Urania Cabral returns to Santo Domingo and the memories of the times of tyrant Leónidas Trujillo
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film. Rape scene described.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1992. Urania asks for a taxi and gets one. In heavy city traffic, a vendor tries to sell her a religious painting, but it brings back bad memories for her and she pulls away. She gets out of the taxi at her destination and rings the doorbell of a home. She says to the maid that she is Urania, the daughter of Agustín Cabral. The maid tells her that her father has never stopped thinking about her. Urania goes upstairs to see her father. He sits in a wheel chair and looks old and feeble. She says hello to her father and asks him harshly if he remembers her? She says she has been waiting for this day for 31 years and now she doesn't know what to say. Urania says she is a lawyer who works in Manhattan. She has never married and has no children.
She walks around the room and looks at some photos on the wall. She calls him Dr. Agustín Trujillo because he was so close to the great dictator. She says father was an intellectual, Secretary of State, Minister of Public Works, President of the Senate and the Dominican party. And it was all done to serve the boss, Trujillo. She wants to know if he did some of the terrible deeds of the men working for Trujillo.
May 30, 1961. Four armed men pull up in a car. The men are waiting to ambush their target Trujillo.
A man named Galindez speaks in the USA to a large group of students. He says in 1930 a military takeover abolished the democracy in the Dominican Republic. There is no free speech and no freedom of the press. And, since there is only one party, the elections are a farce. In the last quarter of a century, Trujillo's assassins have killed 12,000 citizens. The speaker says that like in all tyrannies the regime carried the seeds of its own destruction. The era of Trujillo is condemned to fail. The era will disappear with the disappearance of Trujillo.
The speaker goes to his hotel room, but is taken captive by two of Trujillo's thugs. He is flown and then driven to see Trujillo. He asks if this is the way Galindez passes the time of day? Writing books about him and his family filled with all sorts of lies to turn the United States against the Trujillo regime. Trujillo turns him over to his men and Galindez is shot in the head.
In front of a large crowd on the streets,
Trujillo criticizes Galindez and his book of lies. Later Trujillo is told
that Galindez was an American citizen. He turns to his assistant Balaguer
and asks him why wasn't he informed about this? Balaguer says the man just
recently got his citizenship. He asks Second Lt. Amadito
García Guerrero what he would do in this situation? Garcia thinks a moment
and says he would do whatever el Jefe (the
Boss) wants him to do.
Trujillo talks with Col. Abbes. He says the news about Galindez is not good. The Americans know that Trujillo's men kidnapped him. And they know the name of the pilot of their plane: Murphy. The New York Times will be publishing an article about this very soon. Trujillo tells Abbes to do what he has to do.
A man known as Antonio tells his brother Tavito that Trujillo may sacrifice him if necessary. After all, Tavito was a direct witness of what happened to Galindez. Tavito, however, does not believe that el Jefe would do anything to him. Antonio says that Murphy, the American pilot, just disappeared. He urges Tavito to seek asylum from one of the embassies in the Dominican Republic. He asks Tavito, his brother, to promise him that he will look into the embassy situation. Tavito nods his head to say yes.
Lt. Garcia arrives at the night club and immediately starts dancing with his wife. An uncle of Garcia says that the lieutenant is a little reckless. Antonio says the man is a Trujillo loyalist, just like his brother. He is afraid for his brother. The uncle says that everyone in this country is afraid for someone.
Tavito walks his wife back home and he is stopped by a man who wants Tavito to go with him. Tavito gets in the car.
It's Urania's birthday and her father and sisters have a small party for her. Her father is one of Trujillo's men. Dad gives her a present of a trip to Europe. Urania is thrilled about the present. A man tells Agustin that Antonio has come to see him. Agustin greets Antonio, who blurts out immediately that the only thing his brother did was to fly someone to a ranch. Abbes has gotten his hands on his brother and Antonio fears the worst. Agustin says he doesn't know anything about it. He's not the man Antonio should be speaking to. Antonio objects that Agustin is the president of the congress and el Jefe will listen to him. Agustin replies that if Trujillo refused to see Antonio, there is nothing he can do for Tavito. Anotonio begs: his brother has a wife and two children. Urania comes over to get her father. He says he's sorry to Antonio and starts to leave. Antonio says maybe one day Agustin will be in Antonio's shoes.
Tavito's dead body is placed on the steps in front of his apartment. His wife discovers him and the children hear her screams.
Agustin goes to the funeral. He tells Antonio that Trujillo has send him to the funeral as his personal representative. Coldly Antonio says to tell the general that his family and he will never forget his help. He also eerily thanks Agustin for his support. Agustin tries to give his condolences to the widow, but Antonio tells him that she prefers to be left alone. Agustin leaves. Antonio says to his deceased brother that this matter is far from being settled.
Lt. Garcia comes to Antonio's house to say that Trujillo wants to see him in the palace. He picks up a pistol from his top drawer in his bedroom. Antonio enters Trujillo's fancy office. He tells Antonio that he knows that Antonio thinks that el Jefe ordered the death of his brother. He says Tavito was a Trujillo loyalist and he rewards these loyalists. He does not have them killed. Agustin tells Antonio that el Jefe gave him a request to begin an investigation into the death of Tavito. Now Trujillo wants to speak alone with Antonio. He tells him he has decided to give Antonio the contract for building the road that goes from Santiago to Puerto Plata. With the money he makes on the road construction, he can help out his own and his brothers' families. Antonio hesitates to accept the contract from Trujillo, but he finally does take it. He, however, is still furious with Trujillo.
Trujillo balls out one of his officers for not keeping the bust of his father clean at all times. The officer tries to say that Trujillo has made a mistake. This just makes Trujillo even madder. He says the only mistake he ever made was permitting him to marry his niece and making him the commander of the army! So the officer has to take a handkerchief and start cleaning the pigeon droppings off his father's bust.
Back with the lawyer Urania and her father. She says that Trujillo controlled the entire country. And everyone had to be at his beck and call. Now she asks her father if he remembers Magnolia, the wife of the Admiral, their neighbor? Urania says she never understood why they called Trujillo el Chivo (the Goat) and why he visited Magnolia when her husband was away. One day she saw Magnolia's hand being kissed by Trujillo. Urania is so excited that she runs in to tell her father about it. She wants him to come and look. Dad tells her that she never saw el Jefe in that house. And she must promise her dad that she will never mention to anyone that she saw el Jefe. She promises.
The Admiral is one of the men waiting to ambush Trujillo. He says to the driver that Trujillo really humiliated him.
Trujillo is with Magnolia in the bedroom. She flatters him by saying he is the handsomest man on the island. He says she is the most beautiful woman in the whole of the Caribbean. He senses that something is bothering her and he wants her to tell him. She says that her husband thinks that Trujillo knows a lot about this Galindez and that the gringos are very unhappy. Trujillo asks Magnolia to call her husband to find out what he is upset about. So Magnolia calls and keeps asking her husband questions about what's wrong. He says that everyone knows that Trujillo is no longer the man that he once was. She asks what does he think? He says the old man should retire to his ranch and raise horses.
Now el Jefe is really mad at the Admiral. At a review of the troops, Trujillo glares at him. At a dinner Trujillo says that some people sitting at the tables don't believe in his leadership. Some believe that he should retire and raise horses. (This shocks the Admiral because now he knows el Jefe got that information from his own wife.) He says he won't discuss the subject anymore, because that would spoil things for everyone. He switches to talking about his having been with the most beautiful women on the island. And the best one? Magnolia, the wife of Admiral Vinas. He then says what he did is not wrong because the Admiral is an enemy of this regime. He now tells the Admiral to get out.
The mature Urania asks her father if he ever thought of denouncing Trujillo? To wash his hands of all this? Now she asks for dad to tell her just one thing: How can you look at yourself in the mirror? At this moment a female cousin of hers shows up. The two women are very happy to see each other and they embrace. They go into the kitchen and talk. What the cousin really wants to know is why did Urania suddenly just disappear? Urania says the sister got her a scholarship to study over there. Her cousin objects that Urania left without saying goodbye. She tells Urania that her father has suffered a great deal. At this point Urania says she has to go back to the hotel because she is expecting a call.
The ambushers still wait in the car and wonder if el Jefe will ever show up. One of the ambushers is Antonio. Another seems to be Amadito. Also there is the Admiral. The driver is a man whose son was executed by Trujillo and his men.
Amadito goes to his engagement party. He says to the people he fell in love with Luisa the first time he saw her. The families make a toast to the new couple. Luisa's brother Rene says he wishes them a bright future and it doesn't matter if they don't make it in this country. Dad gets mad at him and Rene fires back that they are on the borderline of civil war. His father says no for it's Trujillo who gives the orders here.
Amadito and Luisa go outside to sit. Rene comes along and tells Amadito that he has to behave himself until after the wedding. Amadito says he only hopes that he gets permission to marry from his superiors.
Trujillo calls Amadito in to talk with him. He says that Amadito has a great military record and he doesn't want him to ruin his military career by marrying the sister of a communist. Rene Gil is a subversive. He belongs to the June the 14th Movement. The old bastard tells Amadito that he will find another beautiful lady but one that does not have a background tainted by a communist brother.
Amadito is crushed by the news. (One wonders if Trujillo wants the fiancé for himself.) Luisa tells him that Rene is only a student. Amadito says her brother is involved with some subversives. She says that she is not responsible for what her brother does. Amadilto finally tells her he just can't see her anymore. Luisa shouts that Trujillo is not his owner. Amadito says he will always love her. He leaves.
Trujillo's police use a lot of violence to break up a demonstration for liberty. People are shot down by firing squads. (One of them is the son of the driver of the ambush car.)
A U.S. senator says to Trujillo that his government is facing a serious crisis. Some people believe that Trujillo planted the bomb that almost ended the life of President Betancourt of Venezuela. Betancourt says that he is going to go to the Organization of American Countries and ask for sanctions against the Dominican Republic. The man believes sanctions will be imposed. He asks Trujillo to step down in exchange for a luxurious life in the United States. Trujillo says no, no, no. He wont' do what Batista in Cuba did: flee.
Urania's father tells Trujillo that the Americans and others fear another Fidel Castro. Then Trujillo sees the pretty Urania. He asks who is that and dad says she's his daughter. He asks Urania how old is she and she answers she's only 14. He invites her to a dance in the palace. Her father says she is too young for that. Of course, the dirty old man, says she's not too young. Urania is very excited about going to the dance.
Urania, accompanied by her father, go to the dance. When Trujillo, his wife and grown kids arrive, the dance starts. Trujillo sends out his confederate to pull the man away from his pretty wife. Then the old man moves in on the wife and dances with her. Trujillo's son asks to dance with Urania. He dances with her and then her father says he is taking her home.
Someone is taken out in the rain with a hood on his head and his hands tied behind his back. Amadito is given the assignment of executing the man with a shot to the head. They then make Amadito look at the face of the man he killed. They take the hood off and Amadito see it's the brother of his one-time sweetheart. Trujillo's assistant tells Amadito that His Excellency will be very proud of him now. The truth is that Amadito is very upset about having killed Renee.
Amadito goes to see Turco, Renee's father. He is crying and says today he saw the devil. Turco says whatever it is God will forgive him. Amadito says no. He says he is going to assassinate someone. Turco asks who it is and Amadito says it's Trujillo.
After everyone else has left the dance, Trujillo dances with the wife of one of the men.
Urania is still upset with her father for taking her home from the dance. She says he's just jealous and didn't want anyone else but himself to dance with her. He tells her that the son of Trujillo is dangerous. He is a man who maltreats women. Urania says she liked Ramfis and dad says that's why he brought her home. He doesn't want anything bad to happen to her. They hug.
A man named Salvador goes to see the cardinal. He says that Trujillo must die and he wants to know if God will forgive him for this? The answer is yes.
Urania's father learns from the television that the three Mirabal sisters (Patricia, Maria Teresa and Minerva) were killed in an automobile "accident". Dad rushes off. He tells his daughter he is not going to have breakfast with her today. Dad rushes into see Trujillo and says that this time Abbes has gone too far. He says the Mirabal sisters were the most visible of the opposition to Trujillo. Dad argues that the sanctions are already killing the economy of the Dominican Republic and now this thing with the Mirabal sisters makes their country even worse. He adds that they can't keep on killing young mothers.
Trujillo tells Cabral that the regime has its dark side and Cabral well knows that. He and Abbes have been doing the dirty work so men like Cabral can be thought to be without guilt. There are two types off people: those who are for Trujillo and those who are not.
Cabral sits in his room looking out the window. Urania goes to see Aunt Adelina. She meets another cousin and a niece. They all go into dinner, including Urania's father. At dinner she mentions that one false, anonymous accusation changed their lives for ever. She remembers when she was around 15 that a picture of her father appeared in the newspaper. The title of the article was that Ex-Minister Cabral should respond to the accusation of embezzlement. At breakfast her father jumped out of his chair, grabbed his briefcase and left the house. Outside the house he doesn't see the car and chauffer that were always at his beck and call. He calls up his office to find out what's going on and is told that all his appointments for the day have been canceled. And el Jefe will not receive any of his calls. Cabral is shocked and has to sit down.
The Admiral and Antonio meet with Amadito and the father whose son was executed. The men plot the assassination of el Jefe. They want to kill him at his ranch. A militia will then take the palace. Antonio says the USA is sending them a shipment of weapons, including machine guns, grenades and munitions. Then another military man will take over and arrests Abbes. The Admiral says he knows a military man that could take over and this man hates Trujillo more than all of the conspirators in this room put together.
The Admiral speaks with the military man, a general they call Pupo. He says he will do this for his country, but he has to be shown the dead body of Trujillo before he will do anything.
Urania's father goes in to speak to a Colonel. He says no one will see him or even take his telephone calls. He asks what did he do to deserve this treatment? The Colonel tells him that Trujillo himself sent the article to the newspapers. He adds that the ex-minister argued too much with el Jefe. And once el Jefe banishes someone, that's it. It's over.
The assassins practice driving the car and firing their weapons at targets set up in an empty factory. Other conspirators arrive. The Admiral gets out of the car. The driver introduces the new man Pedro to the other conspirators. The Admiral says that the US is out of the picture. The Bay of Pigs fiasco changed everything. They are afraid of another disaster. The men decide they can still assassinate el Jefe with the weapons that they already have.
At night in her pajamas, Urania goes in to console her father. He tells her that even his bank accounts have been frozen. Anything can happen to him. And if something does happen to him, he wants his daughter to stay with Aunt Adelina. Urania tells him to pray with her. They pray.
Back at the dinner a cousin says that they were so cruel to Uncle Agustin. They stabbed him in the back and left him there to bleed to death. Urania doesn't seem convinced, so Aunt Adelina tells Urania that she is telling her the truth. Aunt Adelina also tells Urania that she was not fair to her father. She sent some money to them, but she never visited even once, not even after her father had suffered a heart attack. Urania tells her aunt that her father was not as good as she thinks. Her aunt gets angry with her, but Urania asks her if she remembers Manuel Alfonso? He was the only man who would help father.
Uncle Manuel comes into the house and tells Urania that she has become so beautiful now. When dad comes in, he takes Manuel into the library. Manuel says that Trujillo has lost confidence in Agustin. He noted weakness in his minister. Agustin says there has to be some way to regain Trujillo's confidence. Manuel says there is a way. He can offer his daughter to Trujillo. Dad objects that Urania is just a child. Manuel says that Urania is now a young woman. He says if he had a daughter, he would be honored for his daughter to be granted this extraordinary privilege. He compares Trujillo to men like Napoleon, great men. It's as if Manuel worships the very ground Trujillo walks on. And he reminds Agustin that he owes everything to Trujillo for his successful career, up to now. Dad says no, no. So Manuel asks him what would happen to Urania if he lost everything and was sent to prison?
Later at night, dad thinks about Manuel's suggestion. The next day he sits Urania down to speak with her. He tells her that Trujillo is going to have a party at his ranch and he wants Urania to be there. This makes Urania extremely happy. Dad tells her that he himself has not been invited to the ranch. He makes her think this will help him get back in with his old friends. Manuel will come for her at 8 p.m. She is still happy about it and goes to get dressed. When she comes back down to go with Manuel, she looks very pretty. Dad is upset but still lets her go. He cries a bit.
When Manuel and Urania arrive at the ranch, she asks where are all the other guests? Manuel says the party is only for her. She will be alone with el Jefe. Urania says she wants to go home and starts walking out. Manuel grabs her and she tells him not to touch her. He says he knows that she wants to help her father and, certainly, she doesn't want to make el Jefe still madder at her father. So Urania thinks about how she could help her father. Manuel tells her not to be afraid. Trujillo is an old romantic. He tells her to go to Trujillo. Alone she marches into the lion's den.
Trujillo welcomes her to the ranch. He offers her drinks of cognac. El Jefe also asks her why doesn't she talk? He doesn't eat young ladies. He then puts on some music: "Besa me mucho". He now takes her to his bedroom. Trujillo finishes his drink. He then goes to change into his robe. Back with Urania he takes off her top and her skirt. He removes the bra. (Brief nudity.) Urania sits and then lays on the bed. Trujillo gets on top of her. He then tells her to open her legs.
Suddenly el Jefe doesn't feel good and he asks what's happening to me? He shouts at her to stop crying! He sits on the bed until he feels better. He gets mad at her and starts hurting her. (Brief nudity.) Since he can't have sex with her, he uses his hand instead of his penis. The virgin girl starts bleeding.
The mature Urania starts crying as she tells the story of her rape. The rape still greatly affects her to this very day. She cries and cries. Her young cousin holds her. She feels, rightly so, that her father betrayed and used her. She adds that the Dominican nuns helped her a great deal. And what's more, none of her sacrifice helped a bit. Aunt Adelina can't stand it anymore and gets up from the table. She says that those were difficult times and what happened almost drove her father mad. She asks Urania to let go of the hate and forgive her father. Urania asks about Trujillo. How could she ever forgive and forget the first man in her sexual life? "The only man in my life?" She then says that she wishes she could forget.
Trujillo slams his hand on the table filled with his men. He says no one has any balls in this country but him. They are all a bunch of ingrates and cowards. Then he tells everyone to get out! Alone with Manuel and Amadito he tells Manuel to get him a woman for the ranch tonight.
The assassins see a Bel Air Chevrolet pass by them and they give chase in their car. They catch up with the Chevrolet and hit Trujillo several times with their bullets. The driver stops and he and the bodyguard start firing automatic weapons at the assassins. Antonio gets hit. The Admiral and Pedro now arrive and they start shooting at the driver. The driver turns and fires, hitting the Admiral in the left arm. This gives Amadito enough time to carefully aim his rife and he shoots the driver twice. Then Pedro shoots the bodyguard. Now they all go over to the Chevrolet. Trujillo is still alive. He gets out of the car and calls the men "traitors". Now the men open fire on Trujillo and hit him numerous times. This time he's dead. The men hug each other.
Pupo, the general who is supposed to take over for Trujillo, says that el Jefe is missing. Antonio calls saying that they got Trujillo and his body is in their car trunk. Does he want to see the body? Since Abbes is with him, Pupo says his son is not here and he hangs up on Antonio saying he has to use the phone.
Amadito asks Antonio if there is a Plan B? Antonio says no, because they thought that Pupo would come through for them. Amadito says they should separate and hide wherever they can. And don't let them catch them alive.
The army starts rounding up suspects. Urania is one of those taken.
Over the radio is heard the news of the death of Trujillo. The report also says that they have caught one of the assassins: Antonio. A woman sees Amadito rush into his house. She probably calls the police because soon the army comes for him. He looks out the window and sees a lot of jeeps in the streets and a lot of men pointing weapons at his house. He goes down stairs and comes out shooting. He is shot numerous times and goes down.
Gen. Trujillo's Funeral, June 2, 1961.
Mature Urania says at the funeral there were so many people mourning him. It made her sick. And then the blood bath started. Uncle Agustin was taken to prison. Balaguer later made him a clerk somewhere in the bureaucracy. After Urania left, her father was never the same. Urania says she has to go. She has an early flight tomorrow. The women say goodbye to her. They ask her to write and phone them. Urania says she will.
She takes a taxi and flashbacks to her youth come back to her as the taxi proceeds ahead.
Good film with a surprising ending. This film really says that Trujillo was a dirty old man and a mass murderer. The story is told through the eyes of a pretty woman named Urania. She was one of the thousands of victims of Trujillo. After 31 years in the United States she returns to the Dominican Republic after Trujillo is assassinated. Life is better without Trujillo, but Urania cannot be at peace because of what happened to her as a young girl. Her relatives are still a bit mad at her for leaving the country without saying goodbye. But they don't know Urania's story. Will Urania ever be able to tell her side of the story and come to some form of resolution so she can finally get some peace of mind?
Boy, oh, boy. I found it difficult to sit through all the crimes committed by Trujillo. I was thinking: Hey, I got it. The guy was a real jerk and a criminal. So let's kill the son of a bitch already. It was very pleasing to see Trujillo get what was coming to him. And, yet, he got off very lightly. Many of the crimes committed by Trujillo were hard to watch. And he committed so many crimes. Isabella Rossellini (as mature Urania) did a very good job of acting.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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