Review: The Last Circus (DVD)

Magnet Releasing brings Alex de la Iglesia's beautifully disturbing genre mash The Last Circus to DVD!

  • Director: Alex de la Iglesia
  • Starring: Carlos Areces, Carolina Bang, Antonio de la Torre
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 101 Minutes
  • Company: Magnet Releasing
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 2.35:1 - 16:9 - Widescreen
  • Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 - English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Region: 1
  • Released: 10/18/2011

We open in 1937 to a pair of clowns, happy & sad, performing their routine to a tent full of young children, dazzled by the theatrics on stage. Their act is cut short after a barrage of bombs detonate from afar prompting a military captain and his troops to recruit anyone of age to join his outfit to destroy the opposing force. Welcome to the Spanish Civil War. Javier, the happy clown, joins the regime in full costume and armed with a machete to slice anything in his path. After a valiant effort the captain's small army is eliminated and Javier is captured. Javier's young son, Javier (Carlos Areces), finds his father captive and for years visits him behind bars. Javier wants to carry on the family tradition as a funny clown until his father tells me he cannot. His whole life has been filled with death and despair, sadness is all he has to give. We pick up in 1973 with a grown Javier applying to be the sad clown for a circus. Here Javier falls instantly in love with the gorgeous acrobat, Natalia (Carolina Bang). A dangerous love triangle ensues as Natalia's vicious husband Sergio (Antonio de la Torre) catches on to affair that leads to a grotesque and frenzied battle for love.
If you think my above summarization is a lot to digest, wait till you watch the film. Alex de la Iglesia's The Last Circus (Balada triste de Trompeta) will overload your senses from beginning to end and truly is an cinematic experience you won't soon forget. De la Iglesia manages to forge together dozens of genres to create a film that is ultimately a love story. Natalia is in an incredibly abusive relationship with Sergio, a violent drunk who beats her one minute then fucks her the next. Despite the harsh nature, Natalia indulges in it and cannot leave Sergio. It's mad love but love nonetheless. When Javier arrives and vows to save Natalia, you instantly adore his new found bravery and undying courage to fight for her. It's a greek tragedy disguised under a kaleidoscope of baroque sorrow.
Things get equally amazing and disturbing as both Javier & Sergio transform into grotesque clowns that literally battle for Natalia's affection. A true embodiment of beauty and the beast(s). Here is where the film truly shines and hits the apex of insanity. You may begin to refer to this film as, "that batshit foreign film with the disfigured clown that shoots machine guns". It's an improper addressment but it's striking and unforgettable, a key component and valuable asset to independent non-Hollywood features. That and much more is what makes The Last Circus one of the best films of the year and an instant classic.
The scope of The Last Circus is huge leaving much to soak in and be left in awe with admiration. The direction, acting, costumes, music, and everything else associated with the production is sincerely top notch. If you couldn't tell, I adore this film and cannot recommend it enough. Treat yourself to a roller coaster of emotion that journey's through dozens of genres while maintaining a central and focused narrative that never bores. The Last Circus is bizarrely genius and needs all the love it can get, seek this film out with a quickness.

  • Video
Magnet brings The Last Circus to DVD with marvelous results that I'm sure are greatly improved on with the Blu-ray release. The Last Circus has a unique exaggerated color palette throughout that is faithfully represented on this disc. Detail is strikingly abundant with no deficiencies to account for. HD buffs will definitely want to get the Blu-ray for maximum clarity and added sharpness only 1080p can provide.
  • Audio
I chose the native Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and it sounded stunning. The Last Circus is filled with great sound effects and music ques that the surround sound only heightens. Whether it's bullets whizzing by or bombs exploding, it's never a dull moment and quite an exercise for the subwoofer. It's a loud track throughout leaving no complaints here.

Bonus Features
  • Featurette - Making Of The Last Circus
This 14 minute behind the scenes look is little more than an EPK fluff piece, something that mildly disappointed me. This film deserves a full blown documentary and an audio commentary. Despite that, you get some nice words from the director Alex de la Iglesia and pretty much every cast member involved. The set looked like one hell of a time and very fun, it definitely shows in the final product.
  • Featurette - Behind the Scenes Segments
  • Featurette - Visual Effects
  • U.S. Trailer
  • International Teaser & Trailer