The Inquisition Myth Perpetuated
On Monday night (the beginning of my day-off) I went to the cinema - the only film which looked mildly interesting was Goya's Ghosts, which I hadn't heard of before. Set in 1790s/1800s Spain, it is a lavish costume drama with some impressive set-pieces but weak characterisation. Weakest of all is the perpetuation of the myth of the Inquisition:
- torture is used indiscriminately and with the slighest excuse (in actual fact there was a strict code regarding its use and it was heavily restricted, especially by the late eighteenth century)
- torture (or being 'put to the question') is presented as part of the Church's teaching: if the accused is innocent God will give surely him the strength to stick to the truth; therefore a person who confesses is infallibly guilty. This is, of course, complete rubbish
- the dungeons are dire - in actual fact Inquisition prisons compared favourably to secular ones
- all the clergy and religious in the film are corrupt and tyrannical
As well as basing its depiction of the Inquisition on post-enlightenment anti-Catholic literature, the film also attacks the tyranny of rationalism and the French Revolutionary forces, which at least restores some balance!