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December 17, 2006

Tirante el Blanco (The Maidens' Conspiracy), 2006

maidens_conspiracy.gifBased on the popular, baroque, fifteenth century chevalier story Tirante el Blanco, the seminal Catalan novel that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra cites as a profound influence on the realization of Don Quixote de La Mancha, Vicente Aranda's The Maidens' Conspiracy is a lavish, risqué, and skillfully composed, but superficial and unsatisfying medieval adventure that combines the ambitious scope of epic, battlefield encounters with the intimacy and situational satire of sexual politics. Centering on the often comical (mis)adventures of a handsome, brave, and dutiful knight from humble origins named Tirante el Blanco (Caspar Zafer) who seeks to curry increasing favor from the benevolent, ailing Byzantine king (Giancarlo Gianini), initially through his assumed role as military strategist to defend the kingdom and stave off the inevitable incursion into Constantinople by the Turks, then subsequently, through his brazen seduction of the royal family's only surviving child, the young, fanciful, and impressionable princess, Carmesina (Esther Nubiola), the film quickly devolves from grand, heroic tale to lowbrow, bedroom farce. As Carmesina is alternately counseled, manipulated, ordered, and bedeviled by a seemingly endless assortment of intrusive and interfering court handmaidens and servants - a stern and repressed widow (Victoria Abril), the Viuda Reposada (The Rested Widow), a hopeless romantic (Leonor Watling) named Placer De Mi Vida (Pleasure of My Life), a trusted confidante named Estefanía (Ingrid Rubio) who has fallen for Tirante's roguish lieutenant Diafebus (Charlie Cox), a dutiful servant named Eliseo (Rebecca Cobos), and a royal page named Hipólito (Sid Mitchell) whose youth and sensitivity has attracted the attention of the neglected queen (Jane Asher) - and the dynamics of the Imperial Court is further complicated by her parents' attempts to ensure peace and sovereignty in the kingdom from the Grand Turk's (Rafael Amargo) insatiable lust for conquest, what unfolds is an effervescent, but confused, vacuous, and ultimately forgettable (and idiosyncratically cobbled) pastiche that is equal parts romantic ode, bawdy comedy of errors, and graphic illustration of the brutality (and inhumanity) of religious war.

Posted by acquarello on Dec 17, 2006 | | Filed under 2006, Spanish Cinema Now


I loved the film. Though some of the information given in your article is mistaken. Estefania does not fail for Hipolitus (sid mitchel) yet for Diafebus (Charlie Coxx) who is as well a companion of Tirant. Beautiful movie, dresses, actresses and music..great charm!

Posted by: Angel on Mar 29, 2007 9:51 AM | Permalink

Ah, you're right, I just saw a picture of Charlie Cox and that was the person I remember. I've fixed it now.

Posted by: acquarello on Mar 29, 2007 10:50 AM | Permalink

Your description is confusing, it's an entire paragraph with only three sections. Might want to consider re-writing it with some clarity.

Posted by: Matt on Oct 05, 2007 2:33 PM | Permalink

Actually, I'd say that it's a fairly accurate representation of the sprawling confusion and absurdity of the film. :) Honestly though, this was a pretty forgettable film, so it's not one I'm planning to revisit anytime soon.

Posted by: acquarello on Oct 05, 2007 5:14 PM | Permalink

very very forgettable film the storyline of which has absolutely no historical basis, starting with the fact that the last byzantine emperor, altho married twice, did not have any children! film can't seem to make up its mind up on whether to be serious or farcical.

Posted by: jane eyre on Oct 14, 2009 11:01 AM | Permalink

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