The world's greatest lover

A romantic movie pick for Valentine's evening with your sweetie.

Produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Written & Directed by
Jeremy Leven
New Line Cinema, 1995, 97 minutes, PG-13

Marlon Brando
, as Dr. Jack Mickler
Johnny Depp, as Don Juan
Faye Dunaway,  as Marilyn Mickler
Géraldine Pailhas, as Donna Ana

Johnny Depp is sensitive and handsome and just, right, in the role of Don Juan de Marco, a kid from Queens who believes that he is Don Juan, the world's greatest lover.  The scene opens with close ups of a leather bound copy of El Burlador de Sevilla1, laying on a table covered in red velvet.  We pan slowly over leather gloves and silver.  Someone is getting dressed in the manner of a spanish gentleman, slowly and with attention to the details.   An elegant black mask appears and is donned as we meet our hero in the mirror.

"My name is Don Juan de Marco, I am the son of the great swordsman Antonio Garibaldi de Marco who was tragically killed defending the honor of my mother, the beautiful Dona Inez Santiago de San Martin. I am the world's greatest lover."

We are surprised to follow Don Juan out into the crowded streets of a modern city, and into the lobby of the elegant Hotel Sevilla.  Where he is greeted by the doorman Nicholas.  Don Juan continues his soliloquy:

"I have made love to over a thousand women.  I was 21 last Tuesday.  No woman has ever left my arms unsatisfied.  Only one has rejected me, and as fortune would have it, she is the only one who has ever mattered.  This is why, at 21, I have determined to end my life." 

The world's greatest lover then proceeds to demonstrate his impressive talents by picking up a cute but neurotic lady in the bar, who is wooed expeditiously and soon returned to the arms of her husband in a much better mood.  

"Every woman is a mystery to be solved. But a woman hides nothing from a true lover. Her skin color can tell us how to proceed.  A hue like the blush of a rose, pink and pale and she must be coaxed to open her petals with a warmth like the sun. And the pale and dappled skin of a redhead calls for the lust of a wave, crashing to the shore so that we may stir up what lies beneath and bring the foam and delight of love to the surface.  Although there is no metaphor that truly describes making love to a woman, the closest is playing a rare musical instrument.   I wonder does a Stradivarius violin feel the same rapture as the violinist when he coaxes a single perfect note from its heart? "

Impressive technique, but clearly nothing to write home about for our Lothario as he bids his lady good night and proceeds to implement his plan to end it all.  

We next meet Dr. Jack Mickler, played by Marlon Brando, a jaded and aging psychologist, who is called upon to assist the cops in talking a nutcase suicide down from the airy heights.  Mickler meets Don Juan, sword drawn, pacing along the edge of a billboard.  The huge sign contains a Canary Islands travel ad filled with the image of a beautiful woman laying on a white sand beach, the turquoise sea sparkling behind her, and a small black mask, suspiciously like Don Juan's covering her eyes. Mickler, a lumpy cynical everyman, is called upon to assist the tired and bored cops.  He rides the lift up to meet Don Juan and in a cynical but brilliant gesture to Don Juan's delusion, invents the persona of a spanish nobleman, Don Octavio de Flores, on the spot.  Don Juan, recognizing a compatriot in Mickler, relates the depth of his love to Donna Anna, his one true love.

"Have you ever met a woman who inspires you to love until your every sense is filed with her?  You inhale her, you taste her, you see your unborn children in her eyes and know that your heart has at last found a home.  Your life begins with her and without her it must surely end."  

Mickler, realizes immediately that this young man is not your average nutcase, and he begins the process of inhabiting the newly created role of Don Octavio.  He is both intrigued with Don Juan, and faced with the immediate problem of getting him down from the billboard alive. 

"I have no doubt that losing a love like this can be very painful, but why lose hope along with life?  Why lose everything? You must not forget that the power of your love, the power of the love of Don Juan is eternal and will not be denied."  

Don Juan is swayed by the force of Mickler's argument and his apparent understanding of the importance of love.  So he agrees to dismount the billboard and return to Don Octavio's Villa for rest and recuperation. The cops are impressed, the crowd is disappointed and the stage is set for a fascinating exploration of the life of Don Juan2.  In the process the movie makes a case for the role love can and should play in our lives.

Johnny Depp is perfect for the role of Don Juan, Brando, gives a subtle and throughly convincing portrayal of the burned out Dr. Mickler searching for some meaning in his life, and Faye Dunaway is pure fun as Mickler's wife.  The dialog is crisp and witty, the cinematography is elegant and the ending is as lovely as it is inescapable.  

There are only four great questions in life:

What is sacred?

Of what is the spirit made?

What is worth living for?

And what is worth dying for?

The answer to all of them is the same,

Only Love.

- Johnny Depp, as Don Juan de Marco4


Other versions & references to the Don Juan story include:3 

1 El Burlador de Sevilla, (The Mocking One Of Sevilla) by Tirso de Molina et. al. Compiled and published in Barcelona, circa 1630 by Gerónimo Margarit, this text is considered the original version of Don Juan's long history in literature.

2 By a happy coincidence, our hero's life story bears a remarkable similarity to Lord Byron's Don Juan.

3 Don Juan in Literature:

4 Filmography info:

Copyright compliance note: Per fair use rules for this work of fiction, I'm quoting less than 1000 words from the script and have added more than 2/3 original content.
CST Approved