When clowns are the main characters in movies, you can almost bet they aren’t going to be very funny (He Who Gets Slapped, La Strada, The Comic)…especially in a film by Alex de la Inglesia; this is the fantasist who gave us such outlandish spectacles as Accion Mutante (1993), Perdita Durango (1997) and 800 Bullets (2002). Similar in tone to his pitch black farce Muertos de Risa (1999), in which a two-man comedy act self-destructs in a bitter, homicidal rivalry, de la Inglesia takes this basic conflict and pushes it further into bloody madcap surrealism in The Last Circus (Spanish title: Balada Triste de Trompeta, 2010). It opens in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, circa 1937, as a circus clown, wearing a dress, is interrupted in the middle of his comedy routine and forced into service by the militia. Armed with a machete, he single-handedly massacres scores of Nationals before being captured by the opposition. Before he is executed, he is allowed to give some parting advice to his son Javier, who is so traumatized by the experience that it marks him for life. Though Javier vows to continue in his father’s line of work, he is incapable of playing the happy clown and finds his niche as a sad clown instead. Continue reading
What’s So Funny About a Clown With a Machete?