Cinema Arlecchino > 15:00


Tomás Gutiérrez Alea


Monday 31/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

An ironic allegory of the religious hypocrisy of 18th-century colonial society, La última cena is a masterpiece from the first image to the last. The film’s initial idea was inspired by a single paragraph of historian Manuel Moreno Fraginals’s voluminous economic essay El ingenio (1964), telling the story of Count de Casa-Bayona who, to ease his conscience, washed the feet of 12 of his slaves on Holy Thursday and invited them to dine with him. The consequences of this gesture were unpredictable. The impressive dinner sequence is the structural core of the film: almost an hour during which the characters of the slaves are presented and, as the director stated, “the specific personality of some slaves who momentarily play the part of the apostles is revealed, with the intention of questioning the highly controversial image of the slave constructed by the culture of the oppressor, revealing all its contradictory aspects…”. La última cena is a metaphorical film, a reconstruction of real events in the form of a parable. Critics have drawn attention to its caustic viewpoint on the ‘double standard’ and the duplicity of Catholicism as much as any other religion; an extraordinarily relevant meditation on speech and power, slavery and freedom, submission and rebellion, ideology and oppression, ritual and ethics. Although the conflict takes place in the 1700s, it clearly alludes to the contemporary era and constitutes “a dramatic study on intolerance, hypocrisy and humanity’s persistent struggle to achieve full freedom”, as Ambrosio Fornet wrote, “a genuine gallery of human types and behaviours in which to explore purely individual traits or, at times, the secret workings of the collective conscience” … After the dinner, reality gets the upper hand of this group of ‘chosen’ slaves, tricked by the words of the Count who, under the effects of alcohol, compares himself to Christ. The microcosm of these 12 black slaves expands to the whole community, which rebels and is harshly suppressed. The film stands out for its profound treatment of the issue of slavery, becoming the definitive work on a theme that often appeared in Cuban cinema of the 1970s. 

Luciano Castillo

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal libro El Ingenio (1964) di Moreno Fraginals. Scen.: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Tomás Gonzáles, Maria Eugenia Haya. F.: Mario García Joya. M.: Nelson Rodríguez. Scgf.: Carlos Arditti. Mus.: Leo Brouwer. Int.: Nelson Villagra, Silvano Rey, Luis Alberto García, José Antonio Rodríguez, Samuel Claxton, Mario Balmaseda, Idelfonso Tamayo, Julio Hernandez. Prod.: Santiago Llapur e Camilo Vives per ICAIC. DCP. Col.