|Cinergía Movie File:
I, The Worst of All (Yo, La peor de todas)
Directed by Maria Luisa Bemberg, 1990
This file was created by: Brandy Navurskis, Lana Torres, Brian Sabella, Kristin Sherwood, Amy Bianchi, Meghan Blinn and Adriana Barrera
Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:
Section 1: Pre-screening
Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Section 3: Media analysis
Note: Given the transitory nature of internet resources we suggest conducting a search to help answer the pre-screening questions. Only a few links are included below.
In English: World Press Review, Oct 1994.
This site contains a biography of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and explains her
childhood as well as her adult years. It also has links that lead you to a site
where her books are sold. However, the most fascinating is the link that leads
you to the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz project. It gives you a lot of information
as well as some of the works that are presented in the film.
In English : This site is a general overview of the Spanish inquisition. It also goes into some detail about Tomas de Torquemada who was one of the inquisitor-general for most of Spain and was responsible for executing two thousand Spaniards. This site clarifies the Spanish Inquisition which is represented in the film.
History of Mexico:
This site provides a great overview of the History of Mexico.
It provides two major time-lines, one, which views everything from 3500BC
to present day and the other which is a listing of important people in Mexico.
If one wants to know more about a certain person or event in the
time-line it will provide detailed information on it.
Even though this site is not brief it covers all you need to know about
Mexico and the time of Sor Juana.
The Spanish Inquisition:
In English by Joseph McCabe. This site explains the Spanish Inquisition. There is also an
additional link that provides information on the origin of the inquisition.
This helps explain what Sor Juana had to deal with and gives insight into
What were Sor Juana’s reasons for going into the Convent?
How does Sor Juana represent herself through her poetry?
According to Marvin R. O’Connell how many people were
executed a year because of the Inquisition?
Who was Thomas de Torquemada?
were the roles of the European women during the colonial times?
What major events were going on during the time of Sor Juana’s life?
Who is Sor Juana, why is she famous, and what are her poems like?
What was the inquisition and does it still exist today?
What does it mean to be feminist and is Sor Juana feminist? Explain.
Are Latin-American women satisfied
with how they are treated in the society and church? Does this lead to feminism?
Do women in the US face similar
2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
The following quotes come from Susan E.
Ramirez “I, The Worst of All: The Literary Life of Sor Juana Inés de
la Cruz” in Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies.
Donald F. Stevens (ed.). SR Books: Wilmington, Delaware: pp. 47-62.
“According to the movie, after Don
Tomás’s arrival and at the performance of one of Sor Juana’s plays at the
convent, the delighted viceroy and his wife… decide to adopt her.
In reality, Sor Juana met the new viceroy as the result of a commission
from the town council to write a poem for one of the arches erected to honor him
upon his arrival in late 1680 (53).”
“Bemberg makes no reference to the popular belief that [Sor
Juana] professed as a reaction to a failed love affair, a point that Paz
energetically rejects, in part based on Sor Juana’s own words:
and so, beloved of so many,
I took not one into my heart (58).”
“Another issue left somewhat
underdeveloped and unresolved by Bemberg is whether or not Sor Juana exhibited
homosexual tendencies…Paz concludes that modern readers confuse eroticism with
feudal submission, reminding us that ‘an unmarried girl, especially one in
Juana Inés’s peculiar circumstances, who displayed her love for a man in
public would have lost her reputation immediately; on the other hand, a loving
friendship between women was permissible if they were of elevated rank and their
sentiments idealized.’ (58,60)”
“Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz remains
an enigma in many respects. Assiduous
searches by scholars in archives and libraries all over the world have been
unable to find many sources on her life other than those that she herself wrote.
And many of these are poems and plays and other literary works which,
although they reflect her life and concerns, do not and were not meant to
provide facts on or explain her existence (47).”
3: Media analysis
In this scene, Sor Juana must renounce her
possessions. She has the feathered hat from her friend gave her in her
arms. It is her final moment with
her prized possession and she looks sad and thoughtful. In the frame Sor Juana is illuminated through artificial
lighting. Cross lighting is used;
you can see it on the floor to the left of Sor Juana. The window and some papers are also illuminated.
The rest of the room is dark. The
shot is in deep focus. A long shot
is used and Sor Juana is in the middle of the frame (a little to the right so we
can see the window). Sor Juana is
dressed in white, and the hat is blue. It
is raining outside and looks greyish-blue.
Media Literacy Questions:
Argentine director Maria Luisa Bemberg
released the movie, Yo, La Peor de Todas, in 1990.
Interesting facts regarding
Maria Luisa Bemberg can be found at http://us.imdb.com/Title?0100990#comment
, as well as many other movies that she directed before her death in 1995.
In order to understand the meaning and the symbolism of this particular
movie, we must think of a number of different aspects that affect its design.
This can be achieved by critically answering a number of different
questions about the movie Yo, La Peor de Todas.
What is the background of the director?
Does this affect her motives for directing this film?
received any formal education, only that of her high society tutors. She was, however, very influenced by the French writer Andre
Malraux and also by books such as Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex.
Bemberg too felt the oppression that women in her society, and many
societies, were treated with. She saw the double standard between herself and
her brothers in the way that she was treated.
These experiences can help us to understand why Bemberg made the movies
that she did and what she hoped to express by making them.
She is quoted as saying that her films “propose images of women that
are vertical, autonomous, independent, thoughtful, courageous, spunky."
More about the life and background of Maria Luisa Bemberg can be found at
What camera techniques does the director use to reinforce the
idea and theme of the story?
often shows Sor Juana behind bars. This is not only literal, but quite symbolic.
We know that Sor Juana is kept behind bars throughout much of her life,
but we also know that before she was actually behind those physical bars she
always felt trapped by her situation as a female.
The movie also shows many different shots of Sor Juana with her books
right behind her and around her. This
is to show us that Sor Juana’s education and desire to learn are her main
focus in life. She feels that she
is nothing without her books.
Who is the intended audience of this film?
The intended audience of this film is clearly for people who are informed about the situation in Spanish Mexico in the late 1600’s. Without base knowledge of this era, it would be rather hard for one to understand what is happening. The movie is also intended for those who might be interested in feminist issues. We see the oppression of women and the dominance of man throughout the entire movie.
What issues are
not fully addressed by the director of the movie, and why?
The issue of homosexuality in the movie is lightly touched on. We see the sheer admiration that Sor Juana has with the
viceroy’s wife, however, we never really know if this is simply innocent or if
she has other intentions. The
reason that we do not know the true situation is because there is no empirical
evidence to support the case either way. Many believe that Sor Juana may have
been homosexual, but there is nothing to really prove this.
The director did a nice job of showing the possibility that Sor Juana may
have been homosexual, without stating this fact as the truth.
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