Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay
Oct. 10, 2013
When Brazil won the war against Paraguay in 1870, they spared the life, but not the reputation of the woman they claimed was the chief villain in the bloodshed. Irish-born Eliza Lynch, lifetime partner of dictator Francisco Solano López, was painted by Brazil as a puppet master, thief and whore, and in 1991 included alongside Lucretia Borgia and Catherine the Great in a book entitled The World’s Wickedest Women. In Paraguay, the country where she lived as a beloved uncrowned queen, she is a national heroine. Fascinated by the contradiction, Irish academics Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning embarked on 18 years of research to write a biography which forms the basis of Alan Gilsenan’s unique and compassionate documentary. Blending interviews with re-enactments of Eliza’s life – wonderfully performed by actress Maria Doyle – Gilsenan thoughtfully breathes humanity into a portrait of a much maligned woman.