Sunday, March 12, 2017

Star Knight (1985)

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.

No comments: