Veteran director Vicente Aranda gives us his take on events preceeding the fall of the Byzantine Empire in his lush 2006 adaptation from a book by the same name, “Tirante el Blanco” [Eng. Title: The White Knight]. I haven’t read Joanot Martorell’s original book, but knowing Sr. Aranda, I’m sure what looks at first sight to be a bawdy swashbuckler-romance with cheesy dialogues, is his way of satirizing the political intrigues and hypocrisy prevalent among the royals of the time, which eventually led to the fall of the Empire. But I am not too sure if he pulled it off successfully with the English dialogues – may be those in the dubbing department weren’t fully aware of his intentions. There is also some tongue-in-cheek humour intended, but doesn’t deliver.
Technically, apart from the battle scenes and effects, it is well done, especially the rich costumes, splendid lighting, excellent cinematography, and fine art direction – looks like they’ve collectively sought inspiration from the later works of Caravaggio. The Blu-ray version (from which these scenes were cut) certainly make these technical features show through in all its glory.
The story is set in the early 15th century when a knight from the Kingdom of Aragon (Spain didn’t exist in its present form then) arrives with his army to defend Constantinople from the invading Moslems. He hopelessly falls in love with the princess Carmesina, played by the delicious Esther Nubiola. The film is filled with big stars – Italian great Giancarlo Giannini plays the ailing emperor, and Spanish heavyweight Victoria Abril plays the scheming Peaceful Widow, Leonor Watling, court maiden Placer de mi Vida, and Ingrid Rubio, maiden Estefania.