Don Juan Revisited
Don Juan de Valesco, once a famous seducer, is now living in a monastery and tending to lepers, in repentance for his past deeds. He abandons this occupation when Pope Julius II orders a search for a monk capable of taking on a mission of extreme delicacy.
In Spain, Philip the Handsome, the ruler of Castile, dies in unexplained circumstances. Queen Juana roams the country with his corpse. Due to scorching heat, the proces¬sion travels by night. Monks sing funereal hymns around the hearse. Juana’s jeal¬ousy of Philip is so great that, even after death, the monasteries and castles at which they rest must be free of women. From time to time, Juana orders the coffin opened and, at night, by the light of torches, she continues to caress Philip’s remains.
His daughter’s madness suits King Ferdinand of Aragon: he has plans to remove her from power and seize Castile. The Inquisition stands behind him, for it owes its power to him. There are rumors that Ferdinand may even have been behind Philip’s death.
To protect the queen from mortal sin, the Pope enters the game. Don Juan joins the procession to interest a despondent Juana in the world of the living and persuade her to bury the corpse. A struggle for power over Castile consumes the major players. The English envoy ignores Juana’s lunacy and proposes she marry Henry VII. Don Juan’s growing influence over the queen pleases no one, and when his com¬panion is murdered he takes this as a warning. Only Maria, the queen’s attendant in male disguise, falls in love with him at first sight.
The cortege stops at the house of the seemingly modest and pious Le Ferron who, in reality, is male of a descendant of Bluebeard. Le Ferron, who once envied Don Juan’s fame, now wants to live forever and rule the world. Don Juan recognizes the alchemist who is to help Le Ferron with his ambition: it is his former servant Prelatus. Le Ferron appears to provoke fate by showing his guests the cellars of his castle, where he enjoys a second life of women and song. What is worse, he uses torture to coerce the Inquisitor General of Castile and Aragon into philosophical debates. Queen Juana appears to be returning to her senses, and Don Juan’s enemies dispatch a veritable giant to kill him by provoking a duel. With extraordinary courage, Maria saves his life. Semiconscious, Don Juan finally learns the queen’s secret. Juana’s mortal sin is the least stake in the political intrigue. He leaves and does not return to the mon¬astery. To this day, he is wandering the roads of Castile on horseback with Maria, her hair flowing beautifully in the wind, pursuing, as Prelatus follows on a mule.
Andrzej Bart is a writer and screenwriter. He published: “The Man That the Dogs Didn’t Bark At” (1983), “Rien ne va plus” (1991),”Wanderlust” (1999), “Don Juan Revisited” (2006), “The Flytrap Factory” (2008), “The Reverse” (2009). Under a pseudonym he pub¬lished: “The Fifth Rider of Apocalypse” (1999). His “Rien ne va plus” won a prestigious Kościelski Foundation Award (1991). His books were translated into French, German, Czech, Russian, Hebrew and Hungarian.
As a screenwriter Andrzej Bart authored several documentaries including “A Bad City?” which is a series of shorts ( “Eva R.” about Eva Rubinstein, daughter of the famous pianist, “Hiob”, “Maestro” and others), and “Radegast”, about Łódź ghetto where during the WWII many Jews from Europe were confined together with the Polish Jews.
In 2009 film “The Reverse” with his screenplay was awarded the main prize – the Golden Lions Award – at the most prestigious Polish film festival in Gdynia. It was submitted as a Polish entry to the Academy Awards. Since then “The Reverse” has been receiving numerous awards at many international film festivals including Best New Director at the 36th Seattle International Film Festival and the Best Debut Feature at the 32nd International Film Festival in Moscow. Andrzej Bart received for that script Polish Film Award “Eagles 2010” – prize awarded by Polish Film Academy.
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