The journey of Javier, the obese Sad Clown, starts during his childhood in the midst of the Spanish civil war in 1937. His father, one of Spain’s most prominent jesters, is detained and tortured by the fascist regime.
The father’s absence leaves Javier a lonely and devastated child with a growing appetite for vengeance. Come 1970 and Spain is still kneeling under the weight of fascism. Javier is now an adult, still haunted by the memory of his father. He finds employment with a traveling circus that revolves around Sergio the Smart Clown – adored by all children, but a brutal and violent drunkard to all who know him.
Javier falls for Sergio’s beautiful girlfriend, trapeze artist Natalia, who has a twisted masochistic relation to her boyfriend’s beatings, and Javier is drawn into one of the most violent love triangles in the history of cinema.
With technical bravura and irresistible political incorrectness, director Álex de la Iglesia succeeds in re-creating Spain’s political history and the battle between extreme communism and fascism, making this unlikely cocktail of clownery and battling ideologies a pure cinematic pleasure. —Stockholm International Film Festival
Álex de la Iglesia was born in Bilbao, Spain in 1965. He is a philosophy graduate from the University of Deusto who ended up working in the comic book field at a young age. He had a brief stint in television before finding work as production designer on Pablo Berger’s Mamá. This little seen short film focuses on a family forced to live in a basement after a nuclear war and features a little boy who wears a Batman costume.
Enrique Urbizu came calling for his production designer services in 1991 for Todo por la pasta (Anything For Bread) a Basque crime thriller which was nominated for 4 Goya Awards, and won 1 (best supporting actress). A good film to get De La Iglesia noticed.
He then met José Guerricaechevarria and together they made the short film, Mirindas Asesinas (1991), in which a boring man, whose mind is gradually degenerating, is on the verge of becoming a psychotic killer. The two men became fast friends and have worked together ever… read more
What the critics are saying about this week’s theatrical releases — and a few of last week’s as well.
Jay Weissberg in Variety on the film for which Álex de la Iglesia has won the Silver Lion and an Osella for Best Screenplay in Venice, Balada