Mad Love (2001 film)

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Juana La Loca
Juana La Loca.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vicente Aranda
Produced by Enrique Cerezo
Written by Vicente Aranda,
Antonio Larreta
Starring Pilar López de Ayala
Daniele Liotti
Rosana Pastor
Giuliano Gemma
Eloy Azorín
Music by José Nieto
Cinematography Paco Femenia
Edited by Teresa Font
Distributed by Warner
Sony Pictures Classics
Release date(s)
  • September 24, 2001 (2001-09-24) (San Sebastián Film Festival)
  • September 28, 2001 (2001-09-28) (Spain)
Running time 115 minutes
Country Spain
Italy
Portugal
Language Spanish
Box office €8,895,196[1]

Mad Love (Spanish: Juana la Loca, literally Juana the Madwoman) is a 2001 period drama film written and directed by Vicente Aranda starring Pilar López de Ayala and Daniele Liotti. The plot follows the tragic fate of Queen Joanna of Castile madly in love to an unfaithful husband, Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria. The film received 3 Goya awards, in the categories of Best Actress, Best Wardrobe, and Best Makeup and Hair.[2]

Plot[edit]

Tordesillas, 1554. Seventy four years old, Queen Joanna of Castile, called Juana La Loca (Joanna the Madwoman), is still mourning the loss of her husband who died a half century before. Joanna remembers with emotion the man she loved passionately, but who brought her ruin. She does not fear death, she says, because death would allow her to be reunited with her husband. Their story goes back almost 60 years.

In 1496, Joanna, the third child of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, is leaving Spain through the port of Laredo. She is headed to Flanders to marry the Archduke of Austria, Philip, nicknamed the Handsome, a man she has never laid eyes on. The marriage has been arranged for political purposes. Joanna's siblings and her mother Isabella bid her farewell.

Once in Flanders, Joanna, young and inexperienced, is immediately smitten by her handsome fiancé. He is equally pleased with his beautiful bride and orders the marriage to take place at that very moment so they can consummate their marriage without any delay. Their union is initially a great success. The political alliance between their two countries has been consolidated and Joanna and Philip are very attracted to each other. With his good looks and bed manners, Philip completely captives his wife. Their passionate love making soon produces results. Joanna has a daughter, followed shortly after by a son. Joanna gives birth to her son in an emergency bathroom delivery without any assistance cutting the umbilical afterwards with her teeth.

A combination of love, lust and emotional dependency, make the passionate Joanna deeply attached to her husband. Her love becomes consuming, but the intensity of her passion turns Felipe away. He is a restless man who finds entertainment in going hunting and in the arms of other women. The deaths of Joanna's brother, the stilbirth of her brother's daughter, her older sister's death and her sister's son's death unexpectedly make her heir of the Castilian and Aragones crowns. However, she is not interested in government. Obsessed with her husband, Joanna surprises him in bed with a lover who Joanna later successfully identifies as Ines de Brabante, one of the court ladies. In a fit of jealousy, Joanna cuts the long red hair of her rival. While Joanna despairs with her husband’s unfaithfulness, she receives further bad news. Her mother has died. Joanna thus becomes Queen of Castile and has to return to her kingdom. Her tantrums over her husband’s infidelities have made her starting to be known as Joanna the Mad.

At the Castilian court in Burgos, the Queen is happily greeted by her subjects, but her marital life is still in turmoil. Philip is soon bewitched by the charms and spells of Aixa, a Moorish prostitute who uses her sexual attraction and black magic to secure Philip's favor. With this new lover, the King becomes noticeably indifferent toward his wife which adds to her increasingly insane jealously.

Against the background of this troubled marriage, there are two opposed political parties at court: one Flemish, the other, Castilian. The conspiring Flemish usurpers are headed by Señor de Veyre, Philip's right hand man. Their objective is to have Joanna declared insane and that Philip takes the power away from her. Joanna has her own set of supporters, the loyal Castilian royalists headed by the Admiral of Castile. The Admiral and the Queen's friend and confidant, Elvira, try unsuccessfully to rescue Juana from her marital obsessions.

However it is not the government that is on the Queen's mind; she is fixated on retaining her husband’s love. To avoid any temptations at court, she hires only ugly looking maids of honor to serve her, but in fact Aixa has been brought to court by Philip passing as one of the court ladies under the name of Beatriz de Bobadilla. Unaware of this, the Queen relies on Beatriz to find a spell that helps her retain her husband's love. Joanna is equally misguided in her attempt to regain Philip's attention by simulating a love affair with Captain Álvaro de Estúñiga, a close friend from her childhood. The Queen’s lack of control permits the manipulation of her enemies to have her declared incompetent to rule. The King, encouraged by Señor de Veyre, resolves to take the rule of the kingdom only for himself and shove Joanna out of the way. He finds an unlikely ally in Joanna's own father king Fernando, who has remarried and has no further interest in either the fate of his daughter or in the kingdom of Castile.

While her fate is decided at a court assembly, Joanna is able to successfully take her case counting on the unquestionable support of her subjects. However, her powerful speech coincides with Philip falling gravely ill. Although she devotedly takes care of her husband, the doctors are unable to do anything for him. On his death bed, Philip apologizes to his wife for his past excesses. After the death of her husband Joanna, heavily pregnant, takes on a long journey to the south of the country to bury her husband. She does not go too far. Forced to stop to give birth to a daughter, Joanna never reaches her destination. Although she retained her title as queen, at the age of 28 she was locked as a madwoman in the castle of Tordesillas for the rest of her long life. Philip's body was laid to rest in a nearby monastery, which Joanna was allowed to visit from time to time.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film is not an accurate portrayal of historical events, taking many liberties with the facts. Some character and plot devices are completely fictional, most notably the Moorish lover of Phillip. Some scenes were loosely based on the stage play La Locura de Amor (Teatro del Principe, Madrid, January 12, 1855) by the dramatist Manuel Tamayo y Baus (1829–1898) that inspired a previous film with the same subject.

Juana La Loca was shot in historical castles and places in Sigüenza, Talamanca de Jarama, the Monastery of Las Huelgas in Burgos, and Guimarães in Portugal, among other carefully chosen spots. The music for the film was composed by José Nieto, who took inspiration in the Burgos school of organists, such as Antonio de Cabezón, and La Folia Española, Luis de Milán, important 16th-century composer.

The film Juana La Loca ran into several problems even before it was released to the public. The Italian co-producers changed certain parts of the film for the Italian premiere, and Aranda had to threaten them with lawsuits. However, the version released in Spain and the USA was the original, as Aranda conceived it. The film was the Spanish entry of that year to the Academy Awards. It was picked up by Sony Pictures for distribution in the USA retitling the film in the American market as Mad Love instead of the more appropriate "Joanna The Mad". The same name had already been used by Mad Love, a film starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell in 1995.

DVD release[edit]

The film was released on DVD in the U.S.A. on January 21, 2003. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Majarín, Una Vida de Cine, p. 463
  2. ^ Majarín, Una Vida de Cine, p. 481

References[edit]

  • Majarín, Sara. Una vida de cine: Pasión, Utopía, Historia: Lecciones de Vicente Aranda. Editorial Zumaque S.L., 2013. ISBN 9788494011016

External links[edit]