The Summer of Miss Forbes (1988)

 “The ghosts of the drowned will rule the world.”

summer-of-miss-forbesParents who plan to leave on a summer cruise employ a German governess, Miss Forbes (Hanna Schygulla) to take care of their two young boys. Up to this point, the two boys are having a wonderful time with little or no discipline or order in their lives. The highlight of the boys’ day is scuba diving in the ocean with Achilles, a laconic young man whose physique resembles that of a Greek god. When the governess arrives, the boys are subject to strict new rules, and most of them are arbitrary. It’s clear from the precision with which she eats a banana, that this woman is more than a little uptight. The governess implements a point system without explanation, and soon the boys lose many privileges–including scuba diving with Achilles. This means that Miss Forbes must scuba dive alone with the young instructor, and from the way she drools whenever she sees Achilles, it’s obvious that this was the plan she had in mind all along.

In contrast to the strict discipline Miss Forbes imposes during the day, her nights are spent in a Vodka haze as she wanders around the spectacular beach house in her underwear. Miss Forbes is quite obviously a troubled, frustrated woman, and just how frustrated and troubled she is becomes apparent by the film’s end.

The Summer of Miss Forbes is based on a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story, and this video is one in a series of six. Each one is based on a Marquez short story, and each one is a separate tale. The story has elements of the surreal, and it boasts a strange and startling conclusion. Hanna Schygulla is a marvelous German actress, and she carries this role with her usual aplomb and assured self-possession. While the film is in Spanish, it does have English subtitles. Regrettably, when Miss Forbes mutters German, this is not translated. The picture quality on my old VHS tape is not of the highest definition, but it’s certainly not bad enough to interfere with my enjoyment of this strange, hypnotic tale.

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