Original title: El caballero del dragón
There’s trouble afoot in the realm (consisting of his castle and one
measly village, apparently) of the Count of Rue (José Vivó). His main
henchperson, the ironically named Klever (Harvey Keitel, apparently having come
to medieval times via New York, dubbing himself and therefore thee-ing and
thou-ing with a Brooklyn accent that won’t leave a dry eye in the house) is
overly ambitious and permanently annoys him with his wish to be knighted as well
as with his painful attempts at wooing the count’s daughter, Princess (medieval
titles work rather strangely around here it seems) Alba (Maria Lamor). Alba for
her part can’t stop going on about wanting to find true romantic love – but
please not Klever’s. To make the poor count’s life even more miserable, his
priest Lupo (Fernando Rey) and his alchemist (Klaus Kinski as…a nice guy) don’t
get along, either. Oh, and his vassals don’t love him either, which might have
something to do with him being a bit of a tool and – being a member of the
ruling classes – a parasite.
Things become really complicated when an UFO the populace takes for
a dragon lands at a place charmingly dubbed “the Mouth of Hell”. Soon, Alba is
abducted for a bit by its pilot, one Ix (Miguel Bosé), while she is sneaking out
of the castle for a bit of gratuitous skinny dipping, and falls in love with
him. Alas, interspecies romances are difficult, particularly since Lupo sees the
devil everywhere it’ll get him ahead and Klever would really like to improve his
place in life by a bit of dragon slaying.
I have no idea how Fernando Colomo’s deeply peculiar SF comedy came about, or
how he managed to cast Kinski, Keitel and Rey, and I’m not too sure about what
this thing is actually supposed to be about. exactly. I do know I rather enjoyed
my time watching a dubbed PD print – with all the potential for cuts, the
heart-breaking full screen image, and the generally mediocre visual quality that
comes with this sort of thing - of it.
The film’s comedy is broad but not beholden to slapstick. Instead, is
consists of a series of asides against church, state and authority figures that
somehow take up most of the running time, some running gags like the regular
appearance of a Green Knight who has a hell of time with his inability guarding
a bridge or the local peasantry regularly having to dye their single piece of
clothing a different colour depending on their count’s mood of the week, and a
smidgen of perfectly undramatic yet somehow charming plot.
One really shouldn’t go into this one expecting excitement brought by
narrative or storytelling. The joy – and I for one found a lot of joy hidden
away here – is all in watching Keitel pretending to be a very stupid would-be
knight or Kinski being benign, or just in being held in pleasant anticipation of
the peculiar or goofy thing Colomo will come up next. That last bit is a
surprising source of funny, silly and pleasing moments of the sort that
will keep a slight pleased grin on the face of any viewer as childlike as I like
to be when watching a movie.
As a surprising bonus, the production design – particularly Ix’s space ship –
isn’t half bad, the castle looks homely enough, and even the bad print can’t
hide that the photography is nice to look at too. That’s quite a lot of pleasing
and enjoyable nonsense for one’s fifty cents.