DIRECTOR: Carlos Saura
Spain 1983
Cast: Antonio Gades, Laura del Sol, Paco de Lucia, Marisol, Cristina Hoyos, Juan Antonio Jimenez, Jose Yeppes and more
MUSIC: Paco de Lucia and also includes some music from the opera by Bizet
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Teodoro Escamilla
ONE WORD: The acting and the dancing.

A film based on the story of Carmen, the famous opera, but done in a style that is incredible and extremely powerful.

There are in Spain, as many interpretations of this famous story, as there are people. It has been done as opera (of course, Bizet); as theatre (by the director Peter Brook); as a rock opera (Spanish rock band Azahar); and a few other styles,... none of which are as well done as this unusual film. It is done with a combination of fandango, modern dance, theater, ballet, dance, and normal film making for a style which Carlos Saura has finally refined. The whole thing is a rehearsal for a very large dance troupe and their inner conflicts. The dancing is the arena. Carmen is the new order. The other women are the old dancers, whose styles are drying out. The result is riveting. " You dance with your eyes,... not your legs,... " and the intensity of the camera work will draw you in.

If you are a dancer, and study dance, or appreciate dance, this film is for you. If you want just regular stuff you definitely should pass on this one.

It is difficult to say anything bad about this film, and the reason might be that it is ... what it is ... and does not compare to anything else. There are a lot of innuendoes that probably pertain to dance knowledge and cultural subtleties, but in the end, this story is more about the modern age and dance, than anything else, even if it is still the story of Carmen. One gets the feeling that the new age always arrives, and that the only way it can make a dent is having a murderous end to the old fashioned styles and arts. It's not always true, but it is something that is quite visible, and cinema, perhaps unlike most arts, is the one place where new technologies, and ideas and experiments are done a lot more than in any art whatsoever, including music ... and regardless how one appreciates some of those arts, in the end, the ones from "today" also deserve some attention ... and often don't. This is a film sub-text that I think is important, and is actually not totally visible in the film, but the young wild girl wanting the lead and eventually taking it, sadly seals her own fate by doing so.

In the end, so do we ... we get a fabulous film, that not many people are going to see and appreciate. But the dancing and work in it is incredible. This is not Carmen the opera ... this Carmen the dance!

Carlos Saura had previously done EL AMOR BRUJO, BLOOD WEDDING, LOS TARANTOS, in the same dancing style, but none of these three were half as good as Carmen is. Not even Garcia Lorca's fine stories helped his start, though it defined the eventual outcome. I have to catch those films again to review them. I saw them in passing and remembered the dancing and the odd presentation, but I am not sure that those three stories can stand up to the dancing as well as the Carmen film did.





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