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La Casa de los Espíritus

the house spirits

Director: Bille August

1993 drama film starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Winona Ryder, and Antonio Banderas. Directed by Bille August and based on the novel La casa de los espíritus, by Chilean writer Isabel Allende. The movie was shot in Denmark, but some scenes take place in Lisbon and Alentejo, Portugal.

A young woman comes home with an old man. After entering together, she sits him on a chair, where he asks to be alone. The woman sits under the stairs, near where a little girl is playing, reflects on her life and begins to tell a story.

The woman says that her mother, Clara (Meryl Streep), fell in love with Esteban Trueba (Jeremy Irons) since she saw him as a child. Esteban had asked Clara's sister, the beautiful Rosa (Teri Polo) to marry him. But Rosa died and Clara married Esteban years later.

Esteban and Clara have a daughter, Blanca (Winona Ryder), who is in love with Pedro (Antonio Banderas), the son of the manager of Las Tres Marías, Esteban Trueba's farm. Pedro creates enmity with Esteban, since he seeks to marry his daughter to a French businessman, but he does not succeed. Pedro has communist ideas and gathers the workers of Las Tres  Marías to protest the treatment they receive from the boss. Esteban tries to kill him a couple of times but he always misses his shots.

Pedro and Blanca have a daughter, Alba  (Sasha Hanau) Elections are held that the left wins, but the Conservative Party is not satisfied and promotes a coup. Trueba manages to take Pedro to the Canadian embassy, to avoid being arrested, saving him and reconciling with Pedro. Against the game, Blanca is arrested and tortured by an old enemy of Esteban.

Tránsito Soto (María Conchita Alonso) is a prostitute that Esteban meets in El Farolito Rojo, a brothel near Las Tres Marías and with whom he forms a good friendship. She asks him for 50 pesos to buy a dress, beauty gadgets and a ticket to go to the capital and start a prostitute business there. Esteban finances it and she promises to return the favor.

Over time she creates a cooperative of prostitutes having great influence with businessmen. Throughout history, she has several encounters with Esteban where she comforts him and gives him the affection he so badly needs, while insisting that one day she would pay him his debt not with money but with a favor. This is done at the end of the story when she, at Esteban's request, uses her connections with high military generals (frequent clients in their brothels) to free Blanca, Esteban's daughter.
Blanca takes her father to the old house in Las Tres Marías. This is the same scene from the beginning of the movie. Esteban, abandoned inside the house, sees Clara's spirit arrive and help him to die.
Blanca sits outside and reflects on her life. For her, life is Pedro and Alba,  his daughter. Just living has become important. While Alba plays in front of the door when the leaves turn in the wind.


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