The House of the Spirits

Character: Blanca

Directed by: Bille August

Written by: Isabel Allende (novel), Bille August

Cast Members: Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Antonio Banderas, Vanessa Redgrave

Release date: October 17, 1993 (Germany)

Genre: Drama

Chile, second half of the 20th century. The poor Esteban marries Clara and they get a daughter, Blanca. Esteban works hard and eventually gets money to buy a hacienda, eventually to become a local patriarch. He becomes very conservative and is feared by his workers. When Blanca grows up, she falls in love with a young revolutionary, Pedro, who urges the workers to fight for socialism. It is unavoidable that Pedro and Esteban are pitted against each other. Esteban tries to stop the love affair between Pedro and his daughter by all means possible but soon Blanca becomes pregnant and has a daughter. The void between father and daughter seems unbridgeable when Blanca moves in with Pedro.


Principal photography took place in Denmark, but some scenes were filmed in Lisbon and Alentejo, Portugal. Kim Basinger and Julia Roberts turned down the role of Blanca, and William Hurt was the first choice to play Esteban.

The film grossed only $6 million in the United States and more than $55 million in Europe. It was also not well received by American critics. Despite this, however, it received several awards: Bavarian Film Awards, German Film Awards, the Golden Screen (Germany), Havana Film Festival, and Robert Festival (Denmark), the German Phono Academy and the Guild of German Art House Cinemas.


  • Playing a character who’s tortured, I’d get into makeup and look at myself in the mirror and think, “This it what I’m doing to myself, inside.” It was this feeling of “I’m too sensitive for this world”.
    Winona, on her torture scenes
  • Film Promotion

  • Can We Talk? (Entertainment Weekly, 1994)
  • Script developed by Never Enough Design