The House of the Spirits


Action / Drama / Romance

Plot summary

Uploaded by: OTTO


Top cast

Winona Ryder Photo
Winona Ryder as Blanca
Meryl Streep Photo
Meryl Streep as Clara
Teri Polo Photo
Teri Polo as Rosa
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
933.06 MB
English 2.0
24.000 fps
2 hr 25 min
P/S 0 / 2
2.05 GB
English 2.0
24.000 fps
2 hr 25 min
P/S 3 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by CalvinValjean4 / 10

An In-Depth Look At the Book, and Why This Adaptation Fails

The first time I saw THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, I had a similar reaction to what most critics seemed to have. I felt the movie was bad, but couldn't say why exactly. It's hard to find fault in a movie with such an esteemed cast, such great sets and cinematography, etc. I knew it was based on a famous novel, so I figured the problem must have been in the adaptation.

Upon reading the novel and then going back to the film, I realized something interesting: the film starts out as a faithful adaptation before losing its way, but the biggest issue is the tone.

The novel's style of magical realism is, right from the start, difficult to adapt to film. There's green hair, there's magic remedies, and there's a very darkly humorous tone. The film on the other hand is very bleak and brooding, with only some slight supernatural element, which is kind of shrugged off. Roger Ebert, who always has a perfect way of articulating the best criticism, worded it best: "Magic realism, which informs so many South American stories, is treated here as a slightly embarrassing social gaffe, like passing wind. Clara's gifts are not made integral to the story; the filmmakers see them more as ornamentation." For example, in the book, Severo and Nivea die in a car accident and Clara keeps her mother's decapitated head in the basement. Years later, when Clara dies, Esteban tells his servants "Well, we might as well bury my mother-in-law's head now." Moments like that are missing, and instead we just have a scene of Severo and Nivea in a random car accident in the film, and are then never mentioned again. Why even bother having the car accident at all? And why waste Vanessa Redgrave in such a small role?

Now this leads into another issue: the most infamous criticism of this film is that it stars a bunch of "gringos" (Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and Winona Ryder) as Chilean characters. At first glance, you might think this is a shallow thing to criticize: actors play characters of different ethnic backgrounds all the time, nor is there any one way that a Chilean person should "look." But I think this criticism is actually a misdiagnosis of a bigger problem. The problem isn't that these actors are all Anglo; it's the fact that they play their characters in a very Anglicized way for an Anglo audience. They mispronounce names like Tres Marias ("Trays Muh-ree-ahs") and Esteban ("Estuh-baan") and say them all as if these names are foreign to them. Irons, who is British, sounds American while Close, who is American, sounds British. Winona Ryder's character is presented as an all-American girl. There's even a scene towards the end, while Blanca is being tortured and Alba waits for her at home, where Alba is eating out a Kentucky Fried Chicken box in the 1970's! (KFC didn't start opening stores in Chile until 1992. Yes, I actually looked it up out of curiosity). Now you might say "Who cares if they show a KFC box? That's nitpicking." It might not seem important, but on a subtextual level, it's significant. The filmmakers are trying to dilute the Hispanism of the story and create the mindset that this could easily be happening in the US. All of this adds a feeling of displacement to the movie. Because it loses its Chilean and Latino identity, the politics lose their context. What is the coup at the end all about? Why does it happen? What happened to the workers at Tres Marias? Why was Pedro III an enemy of the military's?

When you take this story, remove its Hispanic context and magic realism, what you're left with is just a domestic drama, which is less interesting than its book counterpart when it is simplified. The adaptation's biggest change is the removal of an entire generation and combining Blanca and Alba into one character. This completely changes the third act and it now makes no sense for Esteban to help Pedro III escape. In the book, Esteban joins forces with Miguel as they both care about saving Alba. In the film's version, joining forces with Pedro III will in no way have any affect on saving Blanca. The impact of Esteban's relationship with Alba is also lost as she is reduced to only a small child in the film and not given much character. In the book, Esteban has affairs with multiple women at Tres Marias and fathers many children, which everyone is aware of. In the film, he just randomly commits violent rape one day in a very abrupt scene, and then completely forgets about it until a son shows up one day. Because of the removal of an entire generation, Esteban III in the book is Esteban II in the film, and his character is given the Hollywood archetypes of a perverse and disturbed villain rather than as the symbol of lineage of violence he was in the book. In addition to this you have the removal of Blanca's brothers from the book and a climax that doesn't play very dramatically, and the resulting story is very fractured and loses the epic 3-generation sweep of the novel.

I am left wondering if any film could have been made of this book, which has so many characters and spans many different episodes. Regardless, this film, and its serious tone, do not suit the book at all, and just leaves audiences wondering what the story they just saw was all about.

Reviewed by Thornfield22 / 10

Disappointing Epic

When I found out there was a movie that had both my favorite actresses Meryl Streep and Wynona Ryder, I went through the roof!But I had a hard fall after watching this lame movie and I still have the bruise.First of all the character that Jeremy Irons (an actor I still admire even after this disappointment)plays was just awful. He treated his family like crap, especially his sister, played by Glenn Close. I could not get close or sympathize with any of the characters and I'm no prude, but the sex scenes were really unnecessary or they could have been toned down. Wynona and Antonio's characters could have been developed a lot more and their romance could have been much more passionate. And what was with Meryl's character and her "mystical powers"? Why didn't they go into this more? This film had a lot of dead ends and the bottom line is that this is a really lousy movie and there was a lot of wasted talent here.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird5 / 10

A house with not enough spirit

Saw 'House of the Spirits' for two primary reasons, regardless of its less than great critical reception. One was for Isabel Allende's incredible book that it is based on, one of my favourites for its richness and emotional impact, did have my concerns as to knowing how difficult to adapt it would be. The other was for the cast with some immensely talented actors and actresses. Did think to myself, it is hard to go wrong with Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Vanessa Redgrave, Winona Ryder and Antonio Banderas.

Didn't think that 'House of the Spirits' was that bad, but it should have been so much better. It is severely underwhelming as an adaptation, with so much left out, so much simplified and with changes that don't make sense, confirming my worries of it being one of those books that should be left alone and doesn't translate well to film. It would have been much better as a mini-series of at least 6 one-hour parts. Actually also think though that one doesn't need to have read the book to be disappointed, as 'House of the Spirits' has noticeable flaws on its own terms.

There are good things here. 'House of the Spirits' looks fantastic for starters. Especially the majestic scenery and elegant interiors of the family home, all gorgeously photographed. The costumes are evocative enough and the make-up is more than convincing, with Irons especially unrecognisable as an older man. Hans Zimmer's score fits beautifully with a haunting main theme that's still in my mind. Found the last forty five minutes, with the portrayal of the revolution and the brutality it brought, or so both harrowing and moving, it is also the portion of the film where there are the most signs of a plot.

Of the cast, only Banderas passes as a Chilean in terms of how they look and speak and the accents waver from trying too hard (Irons) to not even attempting one (Ryder). Regardless of that, most do their best with what they have and do capably. Irons especially as the most, and only, properly interesting and richly drawn character gives his all and dominates the film, maybe too much to the point of hamminess in some of the earlier portions of the film where Esteban is pretty much irredeemably detestable (much of the time he is chilling). But when older and more repentent he is much more subtle, whether speaking or conveying a lot while saying little to nothing, yet manages to be authoritative and oddly affecting. On a side note he reunited with director Billie August twenty years later for 'Night Train to Lisbon', did find that a better film and preferred his performance in that despite the character being less complex, am writing this much about him because there is also much to say about Esteban and in a way he is the main character.

Streep is graceful and epitomises pathos as Clara, especially later on and although they didn't create the same magic as they did so well in 'The French Lieutenant's' Woman' her chemistry with Irons is sincerely done. Close has too little to do but is appropriately sympathetic yet stern. Banderas is dashing and Redgrave and Armin Mueller-Stahl make much of their limited screen time. Vincent Gallo is chilling in his small role and Grace Gummer (real life daughter of Streep) and Sasha Hanau are adorable without being saccharine as young Clara and Alba, Hanau especially.

Excepting the final forty five minutes or so where she is quite powerful and some nice chemistry with Irons, Ryder for me was the cast's weak link as she came over as out of place and too modern in looks and how she spoke (which tended to be too much of one-note)

Although as an adaptation 'House of the Spirits' is too short, the book doesn't translate too well as a two and a half hour film. Somehow the film, and it is the storytelling that dooms the film, feels dull with too much of a pedestrian pace and dramatically it feels anaemic and thin and uneventful in spots with any emotional power only coming out in spurts. With the abrupt jumps in time and the disjointed feel of the scenes and events following on from each other and so many plot strands and characters, 'House of the Spirits' can be very jumpy and hard to follow. Even telling who was who was confusing at first, especially for those who have read the book.

Found the character development bland to barely there, only Esteban shows signs of developing and believably. The character interaction is not always natural and could be static, particularly in the early parts, much isn't gone into anywhere near enough depth and the dialogue is trite and stilted. Particularly early on and in the heavy-handedly handled political-oriented moments. August took on an ambitious task and it proved to be too over-ambitious, he succeeds when it comes to the visuals but he fails in making the drama compelling or emotionally investable. For so much content crammed in for two and a half hours, 'House of the Spirits' did feel oddly bloated, despite so much left out and simplified, and like it tried to do too much.

Concluding, watchable film but underwhelming considering the amount of potential it had. 5/10

Read more IMDb reviews