Tirano Banderas

Shot in Havana and Mexico, pic is presumably intended to be a sweeping period study of a bizarre Latin American tyrant in the 1920s but instead wheezes out as a disjointed, boring and superficial exercise in non sequiturs. It's as if a four-hour mini-series had been patched together as a feature, leaving out every second scene.

Shot in Havana and Mexico, pic is presumably intended to be a sweeping period study of a bizarre Latin American tyrant in the 1920s but instead wheezes out as a disjointed, boring and superficial exercise in non sequiturs. It’s as if a four-hour mini-series had been patched together as a feature, leaving out every second scene.

It’s a tossup whether the “action” sequences or the yacky dialogue evokes greater tedium. None of the characters is ever explained, and though Gian Maria Volonte does a nice bit of Caligula-like thesping in the central role, his character’s motivations are never explained and his ultimate death is as meaningless as the revolutionaries’ huzzah.

The non-plot loosely concerns a Latin dictator in an unidentified country, one of whose daily sports is signing execution orders. He has a demented daughter who spends her time tied to a bed; a group of Spanish colonials are bullied, one of them a kind of buffoon; and there’s a woman (Ana Belen) who goes into trances, a general (Lopez Tarso) who rebels and an effete Spanish ambassador. But all are skimmed over and remain paper-thin. There is never any onscreen violence, and barely a drop of blood is spilled in the revolution.

This obviously expensive and ambitious film is a total non-starter.

Tirano Banderas

Production: An Ion Films S.A. production, in association with Iberoamericana Films Produccion, S.A./Atrium Producciones, S.A./Promociones Audiovisuales Reunidas, S.A. in collaboration with Luz Directa S.A./I.C.A.I.C. (Cuba)/ Cinematografica del Prado (Mexico). Produced by Andres Vicente Gomez, Enrique Cerezo, Carlos Vasallo. Executive producers, Victor Manuel San Jose, Andres Vicente Gomez. Directed by Jose Luis Garcia Sanchez. Screenplay, Garcia Sanchez, Rafael Azcona, based on the novel by Ramon del Valle-Inclan.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision), Fernando Arribas; editor, Pablo G. del Amo; music, Emilio Kaudere; production design, Felix Murcia; sound, Ricardo Iztueta, Francisco Peramos. Reviewed at Cine Penalver, Madrid, Jan. 16, 1994. (In Berlin Film Festival, Panorama section.) Running time:89 MIN.

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