Bringing to the screen the tragic true story of 17th-century Mexican writer and poet Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz in I, THE WORST OF ALL, Maria Luisa Bemberg has fashioned an eloquent statement about freedom and repression.
A brilliant freethinker, Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz (Assumpta Serna) entered the convent at the age of 19, as the only alternative to marriage and motherhood for a woman of her class. The convent promised her the freedom to follow her own pursuits, and her lavish room is filled with books,
scientific instruments and manuscripts of her poems and plays. Sister Juana enjoys the protection and friendship of the Viceroy (Hector Alterio) and his beautiful, cultured wife, Maria Luisa (Dominique Sanda), and engages in genteel intellectual discussions with dignitaries from the court and the
church. But some of her ideas seem dangerously radical; in the shadow of the infamously brutal Inquisition, very little dissent will be tolerated in "New Spain". When a conservative, woman-hating Archbishop (Lautaro Murua) is appointed to Mexico, he makes it his personal mission to punish Sister
Juana for her "scientific digressions in the fashion of godless Europe."
Even as the heavy hand of the Inquisition creeps closer to her privileged room where she engages in the "adventure of knowledge", Sister Juana discovers a life beyond that of her mind. She falls in love with Maria Luisa, who becomes her muse as well as her guardian. The two women discuss the arts
and sciences--all in an atmosphere charged with unconsummated passion. The Viceroy and Vicereine eventually return to Spain, where the Vicereine publishes Sister Juana's poetry. Sister Juana dies at the age of 44, having survived the Plague, but with her spirit broken.
Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz is considered one of the finest poets in the Spanish language today. Based on the book The Traps of Faith by Nobel Prize-winner Octavio Paz, I, THE WORST OF ALL is arguably Maria Luisa Bemberg's most overtly political film and a powerful indictment of religious and
political repression. Bemberg, who died in 1995, was one of Argentina's most important filmmakers, and like many of her heroines, battled against conventions. Not only was she a woman who rose to the top of her profession in a national industry rife with machismo, but she did not become involved
in theater and film until she was in her late 50s. In 1984, she was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award for CAMILA. I, THE WORST OF ALL was made in 1990; Bemberg's last film was I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT (DE ESO NO SE HABLA) in 1993.
With its cool claustrophobia drawn from the sumptuous austerity of the cloisters, I, THE WORST OF ALL is a fascinating tribute to an extraordinary, unconfined woman.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Bringing to the screen the tragic true story of 17th-century Mexican writer and poet Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz in I, THE WORST OF ALL, Maria Luisa Bemberg has fashioned an eloquent statement about freedom and repression. A brilliant freethinker, Siste… (more)