Mexican maestro Arturo Ripstein unveils the horror of the Spanish Inquisition in 16th century Mexico, depicted through the arrest and torture of a Jewish family who has already converted to Catholicism but secretly carry on their Jewish tradition. A superb piece of cinema, the film scores heavily on its production designing – the dungeons in which the family is imprisoned and the torture details; the make-up – you are repulsed by the dirt on the faces of the prisoners; and the performances of all its actors. Apart from its well-constructed dramatic plot, the film also serves as an extremely valuable piece of documentation on the elaborate process of ‘auto-da-fe’ that quite often involved burning people at the stakes in public.
Check out THE HOLY OFFICE (1974) and other films by Arturo Ripstein, all playing on MUBI.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker and faculty.