To an Unknown God

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A un dios desconocido
A un dios desconocido.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jaime Chávarri
Produced by Elías Querejeta
Written by Elías Querejeta
Jaime Chávarri
Starring Héctor Alterio
Xabier Elorriaga
Ángela Molina
Mercedes Sampietro
Rosa Valenty
Mirtha Miller
Music by Luis de Pablo
Cinematography Teodoro Escamilla
Release date
16 September 1977 Spain
Running time
104 minutes
Country Spain
Language Spanish

To an Unknown God (Spanish: A un dios desconocido) is a 1977 Spanish film directed by Jaime Chávarri. The film is about an aging man coming to terms with his homosexuality and mortality. It was a pioneer in its frank and mature examination of homosexuality.


José, a middle age magician, is an elegant discreet homosexual who lives alone and has an occasional affair with Miguel, a young politician who finds it more convenient in Madrid's high society to marry than assert his homosexuality. José is a man romantically possessed and obsessed by his childhood in Granada during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in the spring of 1936.

Now in his fifties, José returns to Granada and relives his childhood there. A time when he fell in love with García Lorca and had a youthful affair with one of Lorca's own lovers. Memories come flooding back to the mature José, of youthful sexual conquest, of Lorca's murder at the hands of Franco's agents, and his own early homosexual affairs. José's entire life is colored by his obsessions with García Lorca, his unknown God, to whom the film is dedicated.

José travels twice to Granada. First, he revisits a woman who is also obsessed with García Lorca's memory, and steals a photograph of the boy with whom he had his first sexual encounter; later, José returns to Madrid, to a party in search of his youth, and meets a pianist with whom he had sexual relations many years before but now does not remember.

When José returns to Madrid, he is a man tormented by his past, and in search of peace. Listening to a taped recording of García Lorca's famous "Ode to Walt Whitman", he desires nothing more than to face the rest of his life in loneliness, although his recent lover, Miguel has returned to his bed and wants to continue their affair. José realizes that he is really all alone in their world, alone with his God.



The film was the Grand Prize winner at the Chicago International Film Festival of 1978 and was part of the American Film Institute series of Spanish films which traveled throughout North America in 1979-1980. Hector Alterio also won the Best actor award at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1977 for his performance as José.


  • Schwartz, Ronald, The Great Spanish Films: 1950- 1990,Scarecrow Press, London, 1991, ISBN 0-8108-2488-4

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