Of Love and Shadows (1994)




Director:     Betty Kaplan.

Starring:     Antonio Banderas (Francisco), Jennifer Connelly (Irene), Stefania Sandrelli (Beatriz), Diego Wallraff (Jos), Camilo Gallardo (Gustavo), Patricio Contreras (Mario), Jorge Rivera Lpez (Prof. Leal), Angela Ragno (Hilda Leal), Alejandro Toccalino (Guard at Roadblock), Alfredo Martn (Surgeon), Ana Leza (Evangelina), Carmen Renard (The Rich Widow), Pedro Segni (Sgt. Rivera), Cesar Parlani (Reverend), Claudio Ciacci (Cmdte. Ramrez), Daniel Alvarado (Freedom Fighter),  Jean Pierre Reguerraz (Cardinal). 

fighting against the military dictatorship that followed the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

1973.  The dictatorship in Chile has declared a permanent state of emergency.  The family of Irene has fallen on rougher times.  Their home has been turned into a old folks home.  Irene works at a fashion magazine and is engaged to her cousin Gustavo, a captain in the army.  She explains that her life was safe until she began to wake up. 

Francisco is a doctor of psychology whose type of psychology fell out of favor when the military took over the government.  He now makes a living as a photo journalist. His father was an anarchist who was forced out of Spain by the Franco dictatorship.  He and his brother, a priest who works with the Human Rights Commission, pay a visit to a woman who, along with her husband, were tortured and forced to name names to the military.  She was also raped. 

Francisco pays a visit to the fashion magazine where Irene works and they meet.  She hires Francisco as a photographer.  She has to ask him if he is "on any lists".  He says his family members may be on some lists, but he is not.  Irene and Francisco travel to a remote village to see a local "saint".  A young woman who is called "saint" convulses in a bed outdoors as if she was possessed by some strange spirit.  Francisco stays busy taking her picture.  The military suddenly show up and start pushing people around.  Commandante Ramrez tries to put a stop to the writhing of the "saint" but in her state she punches him in the face knocking him back into watery mud.  Embarrassed, Ramrez and his troops retire. 

Francisco attends dinner at Irene's home.  Gustavo is leaving for duty in Panama.  Later Irene eats dinner at Francisco's house with his political family.  Gen. Franco of Spain has finally died. 

The Commander returned to the remote village and took into custody the "saint" and her younger brother.  Irene and Francisco hear of the news and they, along with Francisco's brother, go to the morgue to search for her body.  But she is not in the morgue. 

Francisco kisses Irene, but she tells him that Gustavo has waited for her all his life and that she is going to marry Gustavo.  One of Francisco's brothers, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, is hanged by the military in a place where the public would find his body. 

Irene talks with Ramrez and demands to know where the saint and her brother are.  He says that the saint was released and her brother was transferred, but to where is confidential information.  Not having any luck with Ramrez, Irene goes to a local bar to talk with Sergeant Rivera.  He only tells her some minor information about Ramrez and makes a pass at Irene.  Back home, Irene comments that "I've lived in a dream.  I'm afraid to wake up."  She says that she wants to find out what turns these peasants into such animals. 

Irene and Francisco get a tip of a secret burying place inside a mine.  They investigate the mine and discover half-buried corpses, including that of the saint, along with some skeletons.   The media is alerted and a television report says that the remains of fourteen bodies were discovered in the mine.  Before the report could finish, the military jams the station's signal. 

Irene breaks the bad news to Gustavo that she cannot marry him.  She tells him "I love someone else."  He takes it relatively well. 

Sgt. Rivera gives Irene his notebook with all the details of the acts of "disappearance" in which he and Commander Ramrez were involved. Irene asks the sergeant if he will testify and he says yes.  As the sergeant leaves the bar he is deliberately run over by a large truck.  A car pulls up close to Irene and she is shot twice in the stomach area.  She has to fight for her life in the hospital.  While her family is with her in the hospital, the security police search her home for the notebook.  (But they don't find it, because she gave the notebook to an elderly actress for safekeeping.)

Francisco is very worried that Irene will be killed by the security police.  He, his brother and one of their friends work out a plan to get Irene to a safe place.  They are all very disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that the charges against Ramrez have been dropped.  The military has also blown up the mine where the bodies of the "disappeared" were buried. 

The conspirators sneak Irene out of the hospital.   Gustavo shows the pictures of the dead "disappeared" bodies to his military colleagues in an attempt to make them righteously indignant at the military dictatorship, but Gustavo and the others are arrested by the military.  Gustavo is tortured, but he says nothing of Irene and Francisco.  He is then executed by a firing squad.  Irene and Francisco escape for a rest at the Aguas Caliente Spa resort so that Irene can regain some of her strength.  They learn that the military are on their trail and they just do ride off on horseback with a guide as the military descends upon the spa. 

Irene and Francisco spend fifteen years in Spain.  In 1989, democracy was restored in Chile and Irene and Francisco were able to return to their country.  One of the first things they do is to lay flowers at the grave of Gustavo. 


Good movie.  My wife said it was another movie about horrible events, but at least they had a love story that had a happy ending instead of the usual sad one.  Of course, as I expected, Antonio Banderas as Francisco) and Jennifer Connelly as Irene both gave good performances. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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