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La conjura de El Escorial 2008
Description: 16th century ruler Lord Philip II of Spain maneuvers within a court of deceit and betrayal
Released: 05 Sep 2008 Director: Antonio del Real Writers: Antonio del Real, Juan Antonio Porto, Manuel Mir, Marta Rivera de la Cruz Actors: Jason Isaacs, Julia Ormond, Jürgen Prochnow, Jordi Mollà Genres: Adventure, Drama, History
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La conjura de El Escorial Reviews:

This costumer film is partially based on historical happenings . It's developed in the court of Felipe II (Juanjo Puigcorbe) , the Prudent Lord , also named the Noon demon . The case of Weak Countries ruled under Juan of Austria , his illegitimate brother is extremely risky . The protestant rebellion and the harassing by William of Orange create Flandes an uncomfortable zone . Duke of Alba (Fabio Testi) regaining the lord favour attempts to force measures over the rebels . Meanwhile , Ana of Mendoza (Julia Ormond) married one of Philip's minister , bore sons , and later became a widow Duchess of Pastrana and princess of Eboli . She wears a patch over her right eye and is an ambitious girl with selfish aims . Antonio Perez (Jason Isaacs) is the first secretary to the Crown . Ana of Mendoza and Antonio later become lovers and make a scandal in court , everytime the scenario of perpetual intrigue . Escobedo , John of Austria's private secretary (Joaquim De Almeida) is sent to ask for liberation of Mary of Scotland and support to stifle revolts . He comes from Flandes to Madrid, but he aware passionate romance between Antonio Perez and Ana Mendoza . Then , a deadly conflict takes zone ..This is a lavish but slowly-paced costumer that has Julia Ormond wearing a black eye-patch as the one-eyed Ana of Mendoza whose superb beauty is hard to resist . Ormond is marvelously photographed throughout but the role , as written , and she gives her tiny occasion to really shine , though being wasted . Jason Isaacs gives a convincing hero as astute and mean Antonio of Mendoza . Jordi Molla plays with enormous distinction as Mateo Vazquez , the incorruptible priest . Personality and charisma of Juanjo Puigcorbe's portrayal as one of the most remarkable European lords that ever reigned . The rest of the helping cast is average , as Blanca Jara as Morisca Desirea and Jurgen Prochnow as Espinosa , but neither the love storyline , nor the characters have much interest with the effect which this duo doesn't work either as romantic couple . Extraordinary costume design by Javier Artiñano , accompanied by colourful , though some misty , cinematography by Carlos Suarez . Luxurious sets create perfect test of true territories in Spain and has a look of a nice production . The motion picture was professionally directed by Antonio Del True .In 1955 was filmed by Terence Young an inferior ver about these historic deeds titled 'That lady' starred by Olivia De Havilland in the role of Julia Ormond ; Gilbert Roland , role of Jason Isaacs ; Dennis Price, similarly to Jordi Molla hero and Paul Scofield , role of Juanjo Puigcorbe , among others. And recently a TV series starred by Belen Rueda as Princesa de Éboli , Hugo Silva as Antonio Pérez and Eduard Fernández as Felipe II .


I usually wait some time after a film is released to watch it. I prefer to avoid the crowds and rely on some friend's advice. Still, I am not everytime consistent with this and, sometimes, films like this one painfully bring me back to the right path."La conjura de El Escorial" should have been excellent. Perfect as most of its actors (a very experienced, international cast) or its historical recreation (location spots, costumes…). And yet… A nice film needs a nice script. When the script is bad, and this one is terrible (or, to tell the least, very uneven), all hope is lost. The narrative is hesitant; there are few unneeded, distracting (and even positively disgusting) scenes; the whole love-story subplot (of course there is one!) is difficult to believe, simplistic and boring… The movie's changing pace is made worse by the editing: for instance, a fadeout between two scenes with some 20 seconds between them and involving the same characters. I also suspect the terrible editing is to blame for not understanding how and why a number of scenes take place, the character's reasons for a change of mind, and son on. Quite true, some takes are brilliantly shot; but others are simply laughable (NOT funny). Take the wars for instance. I was wondering why they forgot to enjoy the theme tune of Benny hill's show. Bud Spencer or Terrence Hill should have signed it- but we're talking of a 16th century sword fight… Terrible action scenes, terrible editing, mostly static dialogs: technically speaking, this is more of a enjoy than a movie.All things considered, I trust Antonio del True (director and scriptwriter here) is much to blame for this waste of my time and money. The film is worth watching, perhaps, if you like costumes or have a historical interest in 16th century life in Spain. Also, it is probably one of the greatest renditions of Phillip 2nd of Spain (a very interesting king), much unlike most productions. But if you like movies, please, forget this one.


The 'conjuration' in the game refers to a true event: the political assassination in Madrid of a high-ranking official in the Spanish court in 1578. A plaque marks the spot today in the exact corner of the road where it happened.The script starts with the stage of the murder and then takes us back to recount the happenings leading up to it. There are many characters involved, and although at the beginning it is not clear why we are being introduced to so many, eventually they all search a reason for being there, from a priest who ends up a the centre of the investigation, to a young 'morisca', a half-Moorish woman who is plucked from the roads to serve in a rich house.The movie is not very imaginatively shot and some of the expository dialogue is quite clumsy: some actors seem to be there just to summarise in words what the atmosphere at the time was, which is everytime a pitfall in historical films. Many actors means many lines of dialogue and this movie -not short, about two hours and a quarter long- is full of conversations, often stilted and stagy. There's a lot of standing upright with broody brows with the purpose of looking imposing and serious, in bunches around the lord or another necessary characters. It is not a slow film, however, but it's not a swashbuckler either. In fact, the one time when we are given a nice old sword-fight, it goes so lamely clichéd, with stalls of fruit and ceramic bowls being turned upside down in a road store and a couple of unrealistic war moves, that it feels utterly wrong.In its favour, the costumes are nice and many scenes are shot at El Escorial itself, the palace-cum-monastery where lord Phillip II pored over the business of governing the world's leading superpower. Some of the actors are quite nice in their roles, and this despite a cast mixing Spanish and foreign stars. I would single out for praise Julia Ormond, who looks not a day younger than her 43 years old. With her ageing beauty, she brings alive one of the most fascinating characters of her time, the eyepatch-wearing princess of Eboli. Joaquim de Almeida is also very nice as the vigorous secretary Juan de Escobedo, acting his scenes with much-needed energy. It is a pity, though, that the role of Jason Isaacs, Antonio Pérez, fizzles out somewhat towards the end, when he could be one of the most memorable characters, according to the true story. Juanjo Puigcorbé plays a more ironic and even affable Phillip than the sombre and adust quasi-monk we have seen in another portrayals. And I personally took a liking to Jürgen Prochnow's character, a local 'alguacil' (sheriff) who becomes involved in the matter both through his job and his personal life.The question at the heart of the movie is: did Lord Phillip II order the dismissal of one of his own officials? This has been much debated by historians, and the evidence is not conclusive. It may have been in his favour because of political rivalries, but the public backlash would have been uncomfortable (as it in fact was), even for a monarch as self-assured and with so nice a grip on power as he happened to be. This matter is one of the central charges vs him laid out by the so-called 'Leyenda negra' (Black legend), with which another European rulers and political opponents sought to discredit him in public, in particular in the Netherlands and Britain. Whether the movie takes a stance on it or not, you will have to see it.



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