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La Última Cena: Horrifying Holiness

by Ky Barefoot

Movie poster for "La Ultima Cena". Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Paul René Azcuy Cárdenas created this movie poster for Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1976 film La Última Cena (The Last Supper). In the film, a Cuban slave owner sympathetically reenacts the Last Supper with his slaves. He then beheads them the following day. Echoing the slave owner’s terrifying perversion of Christ’s Last Supper, this poster portrays a version of the Last Supper that encompasses horror instead of sanctity.

Upon first glance, the eye is attracted to the red blood gushing from the candelabra. The eerie resemblance of blood oozing out of nowhere and wax slowly dripping down candles disturbs viewers. Positioned against the blackness, the pixelated candelabra also disturbs. It appears like it was photographed at a crime scene and plastered on the cover of a newspaper. Thus, the candelabra exudes a foreboding, criminal presence. Enveloping the candelabra and adding to its foreboding presence, the black darkness elicits fears of the unknown and feelings of dread.

Feelings of dread increase after viewers read the title and realize the gory connection to Christ’s Last Supper. Viewers are startled by how the poster countervails holy tradition and presents the Lord’s Supper as one of murderous bloodshed. They become curious about the film and its perverse connection to the Last Supper. They wonder whose blood drips down the candles, and whose hands are responsible for murder. Thus, by eliciting feelings of horror, the film poster engages viewer curiosity and does what it was meant to do—convince people to watch the film.


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