increase and mature, but social and religious leadership grew much to the uneasiness of the “official” church and the government. As was inevitable, the Honduran military, in the face of a burgeoning campesino movement demanding land reform, cooperatives, and collective bargaining rights, had to remove Carney from the country. He was eventually seized after a risky internal flight within the country, put on a plane, contrary to law governing Honduran citizens, stripped of his citizenship by military edict, and sent back to the United States. . G , Eventually, Padre uadalupe as he came to be called, returned to Central America and was assigned to work with the campesinos of northern Nicaragua. He describes the spirit and will of Nicaraguans to rebuild after the Somoza regime; he also recounts the horror of the contra attacks on the civilian population and the schools and clinics of the countryside. Three years later, in 1983, when he was 58, Carney made up his mind to return to Honduras. He resigned from the Jesuits so that he could serve as a military chaplain and fighter with the revolutionary forces. He slipped into the country with a small poorly armed band of guerrillas, which was eventually spotted and pursued by the Honduran military and a 150-soldier United States counter-insurgency force. What happened to Father Carney remains a mystery, but two possibilities are advanced by investigators: either he starved to death while surrounded in the jungle by Honduran and American military or he was captud and killed at the secret CIA base at El Aguacate, used to train the anti-Nicaraguan contras. The fact that his body has never been produced suggests the probability of a brutal murder. When we were in Honduras some eight months after Padre Guadalupe entered the rolls of the “disappeared,” some of our group made frequent inquiries of Honduran authorities about his existence and whereabouts. The questions were met with a nervous “we don’t know where he is,” always followed by an attack upon him as a meddler in the internal affairs of Honduras. Carney’s family has tried hard to learn of his final days, in experiences reminiscent of the movie Missing, but without avail. But, ironically, it may be Padre Lupe’s Bible that tells us what happened he wrote in the margin of the Old Testament story of Jeremiah of being held prisoner in the bottom of a cistern his own country’s military base. OTH Kiss of the Spider Woman and Plenty are rather heavily burdened by their literary oril gins, the former an adaptation of Manuel Puig’s novel, the latter an adaptation of David Hare’s play. They have verbose screenplays, full of heavily portentous lines that sound full-dressed in quotation marks, and both are constricted by novelistic or stage conventions that force their directors to elaborate subterfuges of naturalism. But both are very strong political melodramas, with a good deal to say about the current predicament of the left; and it seems no coincidence that both films, widely disparate in origin and context, are profoundly, though ambivalently, feminist in sensibility. Puig is rare among Latin American intellectuals in that his own politics are rather tentative and quiet, which makes him suspect among those who regard his affection for American cinema, among other things, as insufficiently engage. Kiss is in effect a closet allegory, of the revolutionary activist vs. the apolitical artist, although the closet is, in this case, a prison cell and the artist Michael King lives in Houston and writes on ‘cultural matters for the Observer. a flamboyant transvestite obsessed with pop-romantic movies. That there is more than a little irony in this premise goes without saying; as Kiss turns out, Puig very poignantly suggests that there may be more real heroism in romance than KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN Directed by Hector Babenco PLENTY Directed by Fred Schepisi in the cold political choices of the activist. But that is, of course, the central premise of Romance itself, and one would not be too far wrong to describe Kiss of the Spider Woman as a gay Casablanca for the left. The unlikely Bogart in this film is William Hurt, as Molina, a homosexual jailed for seducing a minor and incarcerated in the same cell with the revolutionusual fine performance, but this is Hurt’s film \(for which he has been justly exaggeration to call his Molina a triumph. The success of the film depends upon Molina’s transformation from a rather pathetic informer to a courageous hero or rather, heroine and Hurt has managed to invest that transformation with convincing delicacy and grace, resisting the temptation to campy theatrics. Almost all the action takes place in the prison cell of a nameless South American country where Molina and Valentin are held, and the explicit narrative concerns Molina’s attempts to cooperate with the authorities in getting Valentin to expose his comrades. Molina, like Rick in Casablanca, has no use for politics and wants only to be left in peace. But again like Rick, he is vulnerable to love. Having fallen for his cellmate, he is moved to desperate heroism, and he sacrifices himself for the love of his friend. The center of the film is the romance of Molina and Valentin, accomplished first by Molina’s enraptured. recounting of an old romantic melodrama, and then by his tender affection for Valentin when he is ill. Valentin is eventually moved, by Molina’s sensitivity and his kindness, to respond to his unwanted physical affection, and Molina is moved in turn to attempt a revolutionary action. None of this is straightforward, however; the old film Molina lovingly retells and director Babenco has shot internally in romantic half-tones is discovered to be a Nazi propaganda film, oozing with sentimentalized Aryanism; Valentin’s illness is brought on by the jailer’s poison, administered with Molina’s cooperation; and the revolutionary action, a simple but dangerous rendezvous, seems doomed and suicidal from the outset. These complications make Kiss of the Spider Woman in effect a debate on the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 The Personal and the Political By Michael. King
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