The Summer of Miss Forbes (El Verano de la Senora Forbes)

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


Miss Forbes, a German governess, is hired to look after two children for six weeks, while their parents go on a pleasure cruise. Miss Forbes turns out to be an authoritative and repressive woman. She imposes military discipline on the children to get them to fulfill their obligations and duties. Her attitude, reminiscent of a Prussian sergeant, nourishes a blind, growing hatred in the children, inciting them to plan her murder. Having made up their minds to do away with her, the children begin to spy on her at night, and are amazed to discover a very different Miss Forbes from the cold, dictatorial woman who orders them about and threatens them during the day. They find she is a voluptuous woman who reads porn magazines, drinks like a fish, and sings strange songs in German while parading naked around her bedroom, calling the name of Achilles, a young man who often comes to the house and plays with the children.

Eaten up by a burning passion, the governess gives free rein to her repressed instincts, and seduces the young Achilles. Yet, when he answers her ardent call, he is brutally rejected. We now see her hidden split personality. For the children, it is madness, pure and simple. This lover’s game of provocation and rejection goes on for some time and has a surprising denouement. For me, the most striking feature of the story is the split personality of Miss Forbes, which enables the spectator to sympathize with the characters. Another result is that first we loathe Miss Forbes, then we understand her, and eventually we end up feeling sorry for her. The fright and catharsis we experience help this story achieve a level of grandeur and modern tragedy.

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Screening Details

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