Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Spain, 1983. Emiliano Piedra, Television Espanola. Screenplay by Carlos Saura, Antonio Gades, based on the novella by Prosper Merimee. Cinematography by Teo Escamilla. Produced by Emiliano Piedra. Music by Paco de Lucía. Production Design by Felix Murcia. Costume Design by Teresa Nieto. Film Editing by Pedro del Rey. Academy Awards 1983. Cannes Film Festival 1983. Golden Globe Awards 1983. National Board of Review Awards 1984.
Carlos Saura’s fascination with Latin dance gets an excellent showcase in this beautiful film adaptation of Prosper Merimee’s novel and Bizet’s opera. Antonio Gades, who starred in and choreographed Saura’s Blood Wedding, plays a fictionalized version of himself as director of a dance troupe who is inspired to adapt Carmen as a flamenco ballet. Searching extensively for his leading actress, he chooses a charismatic though not overtly strong femme fatale (Laura del Sol) for the starring role, then falls in love with her and quite possibly heads toward a dark fate. She is mysterious, beautiful and deeply bewitching, leading to the director’s judgment clouding as the events depicted in the ballet mirror those which are happening in real life. It’s just fluffy enough to be thrilling and only serious enough to be engaging, a beautiful blend of arts that zips by in no time and captures the energy of the dance technique it depicts surprisingly well.