Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy Part 1 - Carmen (1983)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

CARMEN, the second in Carlos Saura's flamenco dance trilogy, which also includes BLOOD WEDDING and EL AMOR BRUJO, is staged as an opera within an opera. To counter what many Spaniards feel are the ineffectual clichés and cultural trappings of CARMEN--the fans and knives and the roses between the teeth--Saura and dancer-choreographer Antonio Gades have integrated into the original story a parallel subplot about love, jealousy, and violence in the lives of the dancers performing the ballet. This contemporary love affair between Antonio (Antonio Gades) and Carmen (Laura del Sol) clearly follows the plot of the opera. The entire subplot takes place in rehearsals, and includes a delightful scene of the entire troop spontaneously bursting into a parody of the campy March of the Toreadors.Saura adds scenes that depict the fantasies of the characters, which is an element that the director uses in many of his films. He blends the emotions of the dancers in their real lives into their dancing in the performance, which brings to life--in a powerful and vivid fashion--the overly familiar characters of Georges Bizet's opera.
Musical & Performing Arts
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Critic Reviews for Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy Part 1 - Carmen

All Critics (2)

Carlos Saura's dance version of Bizet's famous opera was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar.

Full Review… | April 11, 2012

A superb Spanish film that vividly conveys the passion and contol of flamenco dancing

Full Review… | July 23, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy Part 1 - Carmen

So Much More Attractive Than Belly Dancing This is one of four versions of [i]Carmen[/i] to have come out in 1983. [i]Carmen[/i] is so popular that there are versions of the opera--not the story, mind; the opera--to have been filmed in the silent era. I'm pretty sure I reviewed at least one of them, and I'm quite sure I expressed confusion at the time. There's a certain appeal to the story, I suppose, though it's never been my favourite. Oh, and the music is quite popular. It includes probably some of the best known operatic music, though I'd be fairly willing to be that most people have no idea where it comes from. It's just the combination of the music and the silent film which confuses me. Still, where this version is unique among all the others I've seen is in the inclusion of, you know, people from the culture the original story's about. Here, Antonio (Antonio Gades) is a choreographer/director. Kind of Bob Fosse with castanets. He's putting on a real flamenco production of [i]Carmen[/i], and he's looking for someone new and different to play the title role. He finds Carmen (Laura Del Sol), appropriately enough, and he casts her. From there, the movie starts to blur where the performance begins and the movie's own story ends. Antonio becomes obsessed with Carmen as the script requires. To be fair, I'm not sure if the Carmen of the opera has a husband in jail on drug charges, but yeah. (Hardly anyone seems to have names in this production, which is okay, because I don't remember most of the names of those who do.) Anyway, Cristina (Cristina Hoyos) knows the girl is trouble but can't convince Antonio that he's being used. And so forth. I'm not sure if it's a statement about Gades the actor or Antonio the character, but he's missing a lot of the obsession needed for the role. It may have been the intent that his last action in the film seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere and make no sense, but I really don't think that works for the story. [i]Carmen[/i] is [i]Carmen[/i], of course, and being an opera, it's one of those beautiful studies in the inevitable. Even Bugs Bunny died in the throes of opera. However, Elmer Fudd never showed the slightest doubt that he was going to kill the rabbit. Yes, he was conned; that's the nature of Looney Tunes pulling on it. However, while Antonio is surprised by Carmen's actions, it doesn't feel as though he cares half so much about it as he ought. Other than that, I do think the conceit works. It takes a little getting used to. There are a couple of scenes where you can miss that we've shifted in and out of performance space. Everybody seems inclined to lounge about in their rehearsal clothes all the time, which is not all that unbelievable. Casting also contributes toward the obvious animosity between Carmen and Cristina. It seems likely that Cristina is wishing Antonio would show interest in her, but either way, she wants to protect him from that floozy. There's a male friend of Antonio's (like I said, I didn't much notice names) who reacts much the same way. With the exception of Carmen herself, everyone seems to have known one another for so long that they're all going through motions they've rehearsed whether on or offstage. I am quite serious about my opinion of flamenco versus belly dancing. I think flamenco is cooler. And even if it isn't just cooler, it certainly is at least as cool. The reason it and [i]Carmen[/i] are so suited to one another is that both are about passion. Oh, there's implicit sex in belly dancing, no matter how you're looking at it. Both dances do share the bodily awareness which makes all dance something along the lines of sublimated sex. Indeed, I'm having a hard time explaining exactly what about belly dancing I find so passionate. Maybe it's those foot movements which are why it's about the only performing art where an unpadded stage is desirable, so the footfalls get the right emphasis. Something. Anyway, I'd like to encourage people to watch this so they get to know flamenco better if nothing else.

Edith Nelson
Edith Nelson

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