The opening scene is inspired by "The Kiss", a short story by Spanish Spanish Romance literature writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and by Francisco Goya's painting ''The Third of May 1808''. Toledo, 1808. The city has been occupied by French Napoleonic troops. A firing squad executes a small group of Spanish rebels who cry out "Long live chains!" or "Death to the ''gabachos''!" -a Spanish pejorative term for "Frenchmen"-. The troops are encamped in a Catholic church which they desecrate by drinking, singing, and eating the communion wafers. The captain caresses a statue of Doña Elvira de Castañeda and is knocked unconscious by the statue of her husband, Don Pedro López de Ayala. In revenge, the captain exhumes Doña Elvira's body to find her face has not decomposed; there is a suggestion of intended necrophilia.
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