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Siobhan Townsend

Dr. Gabriela Díaz de Sabatés

Latin American Studies


Film Essay #1

Over the course of this class so far, we have discussed how colonization of the Americas

affected indigenous peoples of those original countries in the America’s. How European

populations such as the British, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish (Spain), and many others

had colonized the Americas; attempting to take the land to claim for their home country and

spread their ways of thinking and beliefs. In the film The Last Supper, written by Tomas

Gonzalez and directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea; this movie discusses the conditions and

lifestyle presents of a Havana plantation owner who attempts to recreate the Christian’s Last


In this movie the setting is Havana, Cuba, a sugarcane plantation owner who firmly

believes in Christianity and god attempts to recreate the Last Supper for his slaves in hopes to

guide them into the faith. He attempts to educate his slaves on the ways of God; he is concerned

for the souls of his slaves as well as their physical conditions. He invites twelve of his slaves to

join him at dinner on Maundy Thursday the night before the Last Supper and Christ’s

crucifixion, to educate them on the ways of Christianity; to have their souls saved and spread this
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ideology. The Christian view of the Last Supper represents death and resurrection like the death

and resurrection of freedom in this movie. It also speaks to how we treat other people in general;

even in today’s standards. Often, we see the truth in our behavior through actions rather than

spoken. When the Count is kissing the feet of his slaves and washing them as done so during the

Biblical Last Supper; all the slaves are in a pure state of shock; the Count attempts to begin to

explain the Christian ideologies and myths to them; that “everything belongs to God”. Most of

the slaves are confused by this except for the slave who was a cannibal.This alone shows the

large cultural disconnect on how most slaves were stolen from their own lands when they were

pillaged and traded and sold monetarily like goods, and how Spanish colonization was stripped

and converting cultures and ideologies of previous groups into that of another. The Count makes

the slaves empty promises of freedom and no work; when these fall through the slaves’ rebel and

wind up having the Count; “pay for his sins” with his death.

This man represents all that is the ruling country now of Cuba at the time, he holds

extreme power but tries to justify actions of people who may hold more power than him, such as

Manuel, who punishes a slave who previously ran away and was caught. Manuel cuts of this

slave’s ear and the Count holds some remorse for the action and feels for this victim; but he does

not question the system that is in place. The large divide between the “haves” and the “have-

nots”. This also shows the large divide of the middle class of Havana of the time; as well how

much religion played into the politics of the time of the Cuban revolution. Another key element

is the death and crucifixion of the Count; represents the Cuban Revolution after conquistadors
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took Cuba. Cuba was one of two of the last colonies to be given up in the Spanish- American

War in 1898, before this during the 19th century Cuba was only declaring a territory of the

Spanish Monarch in 1812. But prior to this the Diocese of San Cristobal de La Habana as

established. A church that also ruled; that the government/monarchy was deeply rooted in the

religion, almost guaranteeing anyone disagreeing or having another view point to be treated even

worse than before. Feeding more power to people like the Count; for spreading religion ad faith.

It gives an allusion to the illusion of freedom instead continues to imply the idea of an oppressed

people. Even though the Count invites them to this supper and kisses and washes their feet; he

still owns them, promises them a single day off from unpaid work, but to free only one of the

twelve. This again demonstrates the recurring point of colonization, taking culture from those

and placing them into a culture that is unfamiliar with customs and trying to reform their faith,

undermine their own traditions and beliefs and force them into a war or fight they never asked to

be in.

This movie ends with the Count promising freedom to one slave on Good Friday,

commemorating Jesus’s death at Calvary. The way Good Friday was formerly known was as The

Order of Holy and Saving Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, thee are twelve reading recollecting

the crucifixion of Christ. And the come to kiss the feet of Christ similar to the way the Count

treated his slaves; ironically, they call upon Christ to have mercy on all, for the salvation of the

world. Almost as to say the Count may believe in the good for the future, hoping that the slaves

may be a future salvation of the Spanish. As almost to resurrect Spain and the territory; to bring

forth a new view of Havana and Cuba.