The Dumbfounded King

El rey pasmado (English: The Dumbfounded King) is a 1991 French-Portuguese-Spanish comedy-historical film directed by Imanol Uribe and written by Joan Potau and Gonzalo Torrente Ballester. The screenplay was based on Torrente's novel Crónica del rey pasmado.

El rey pasmado
Film poster
Directed byImanol Uribe
Written byJoan Potau
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester
StarringGabino Diego
Juan Diego
Maria Barranco
Javier Garruchaga
Music byJosé Nieto
Edited byTeresa Font
Release date
1 November 1991
Running time
106 minutes



Story set in 17th century Spanish court, where King Philip IV (Gabino Diego), on a getaway with Count of Peña Andrada, is stunned to see the naked body of Marfisa, a prostitute of the town (in a pose reminiscent of the Rokeby Venus). After this discovery, the king decides to see the naked body of his wife, Queen Elisabeth of France (Anne Roussel)

Due to this the Grand Inquisitor is obliged to convene a meeting of theologians to discuss the matter. Both sides of the debate are represented by the figure of the friar Villaescusa (Juan Diego), which ensures that the claim of the king is a serious sin that can bring punishment on the whole country and the Father Almeida, a Jesuit missionary who replies that the luck of the governed depends on the ability of its rulers rather than their morality and that the desire of the king is a private matter. Although the Queen is willing to accommodate to the wishes of the king, Villaescusa and his minions do enough to frustrate his desires. Finally, with the help of the Jesuit and the Count of la Peña Andrada, the King gets to meet with the queen alone in the monastery of San Plácido and achieves his goal.

Meanwhile, the Count-Duke of Olivares (Javier Gurruchaga) fears that he could being punished by God because he fails to have children with his wife, so he gets advice from Villaescusa, who informs him that the pleasure he and his wife obtain when performing the sexual act is to be blamed for the infertility. The "divinely inspired" solution proposed by Villaescusa is that the Earl and his wife copulate in the choir of the church of San Plácido (where by coincidence are also very nearly the kings) in front of the choir nuns. At the end of this sexual encounter the Count-Duke of Olivares receives two letters which informs him of the successful arrival of the Indian fleet to Cadiz and the victory of Spanish troops in Flanders. Villaescusa says that the happy ending is due to the sacrifices they all have passed, but the Count Duke replies that by the date of the letters it could be seen that the fleet had arrived in Cadiz two days ago "just the day King went whores". The Count-Duke sends Villaescusa to Rome with a sealed letter asking to not let him go until he has changed his attitude.


Spanish critic Carlos Aguilar in his Guía del cine español says that the film has some flaws, such as the different treatment of historical characters, but these are outweighed by good realization and a good cast.[1] Critics also noted the close resemblance of Gabino Diego and Gurruchaga with Philip IV and the Count-Duke of Olivares respectively.[2]

Most of the film was shot in the Renaissance palace of the Marquis of Santa Cruz in Viso del Marqués (Ciudad Real) and the Monastery of Uclés (Cuenca).

Awards and nominations


  • Goya Awards
    • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Juan Diego)
    • Best Costume Design (Javier Artiñano)
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyles (Romana González and Josefa Morales)
    • Best Original Score (José Nieto)
    • Best Production Design (Félix Murcia)
    • Best Production Supervision (Andrés Santana)
    • Best Screenplay Adapted (Joan Potau and Gonzalo Torrente Malvido)
    • Best Sound (Ricard Casals and Gilles Ortion)



  1. Aguilar, Carlos (2007). Guía del cine español. Cátedra. p. 885. ISBN 978-84-376-2419-8.
  2. El rey pasmado en
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