Helmer preps epic vision

Aranda jousts with medieval tales in 'Tirante'

MADRID — One of Spain’s top helmers, Vicente Aranda (“Mad Love,” “Carmen”), is tackling the most ambitious — in budgetary terms — project in his nearly 40-year career: “Tirante el Blanco,” a rip-roaring tale of chivalry, jousting and the Crusades budgeted at 12 million euros ($14.9 million).

“Tirante” will be produced by Enrique Viciano’s Valencia-based Carolina Films.

Per Viciano, there are advanced talks to structure the pic as an Italian/U.K./Spanish co-prod, with Spain contributing some 60% equity. Viciano aims to shoot in Spain, Morocco and Turkey, with start dates skedded for October.

Key cast has yet to be signed, but, hints Viciano, “it will include one of Aranda’s great female discoveries from past films.” “Mad Love” launched the mainstream career of Pilar Lopez de Ayala; “Carmen” toplined Paz Vega.

Aranda says he’s been “pursuing this project for 30 years,” and defined the pic as “Arthurian vaudeville.” Film is based on a 15th-century novel by Valencian Joanot Martorell that tells the tale of the adventures of Tirant lo Blanc, a 13th-century Breton knight who, having jousted to fame, is summoned by the Emperor of Constantinople to save the world — in this case from Muslim invasion.

“The film has a chivalric background, but there’s a palace scene with a magnificent party and ensemble character work which recalls the choral jocularity of ‘Shakespeare in Love,'” Viciano told Daily Variety.

BVI Spain has signed up theatrical rights for Spain.

Aranda’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been postponed until 2005.

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