Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Chilean director Raúl Ruíz has transformed Jean Racine's classical love story about Berenice and the Roman emperor Titus into an intriguing, avant-garde representation of a woman living in a "shadow world." Berenice was the daughter of Herod, and because she was not Roman herself, she was rejected as a suitable queen for Titus. While the essence of the story is easy to state, Racine's 17th-century poetic language is a hard go for most audiences, and Ruíz's great accomplishment has been to eliminate the circuitous, intricate language -- creating a combination of expressionism and "Mexican melodrama," to paraphrase his own description. Berenice interacts with shadows that speak but are never seen as the people they represent, allowing the nuances and tonalities of the actor's voices to carry the emotion inherent in the rejected woman's tragic circumstances.
emperor, forbidden-love, love, queen [royalty], rejection, romance