(out of 5)
Scintillating drama about the rise to fame of a fictional bullfighter, played by real-life torero and Spanish icon Miguel Mateo (aka Miguelin). After leaving his dusty Andalusian village in search of a better life in Barcelona, Miguel (renamed Romero for the film) does a bunch of low-paying, dissatisfying manual labour jobs before coming upon the career of bullfighting. Convincing a trainer to teach him the athletic as well as artful secrets of the trade, he rises to national hero and cultural icon. Francesco Rosi doesn’t bother us with some kind of spiritual crisis; Miguelin is never in danger of losing his relationships with his family or his soul in all the manners of pleasure that open up to him because of his fame (money, women, etc). Instead the driving force of ambition is the film’s pulse, and the obsessive closeness to death that resides in every frame, particularly in the amazing bullfight sequences, is its power.
Directed by Francesco Rosi
Music by Piero Piccioni
Production Design by Jose Antonio de la Guerra
Film Editing by Mario Serandrei