De la Iglesia explores horror and passion in A Sad Trumpet Ballad
by Camillo de Marco
08/09/2010 - Spanish master of the grotesque Alex de la Iglesia exorcises the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War with A Sad Trumpet Ballad [trailer, film focus], in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Fiction and historical reality blend in this gruesome melodrama set in a circus, with a love triangle of tragic implications.
The setting is 1973. Javier (Carlos Aceres), the son of a clown killed by Francoists, has in turn become a "sad clown". He joins a shabby circus for a show in collaboration with "cheerful clown" Sergio (Antonio De La Torre), an alcoholic psychopath who is involved with beautiful acrobat Natalia (Carolina Bang, the director’s real-life partner).
In a whirlwind of traps, shootings, explosions, mutilations and debasements, shown with Iglesia’s immense distorted visual impact, the two clowns fight it out for the love of the attractive acrobat, against the backdrop of the Francoist regime and all its associated iconography.
"It’s my most personal and risky film; I’ve put my heart and soul into it", explained the director, who identified with both protagonists. "In my opinion, it’s first and foremost a love story: mad, wild and horrible. In short, a mix of horror and passion: the things I love".
On the dark period of the dictatorship, Iglesia says he has “brought out the anguish, with shades of film noir and irony, in order to be able to bury it. We have a terribly painful past which influences all our present-day lives. We’ve suffered pain and torture: things which change people and destroy the life of the film’s protagonist".
(Translated from Italian)