Carlos Saura's Dazzling Flamenco, Flamenco!

Flamenco, Flamenco



Already renowned for his earlier trilogy on flamenco, Carlos Saura’s heart and soul is poured into his follow-up, comprehensive film, Flamenco, Flamenco.  Filmed in Spain in 2010 it connects the upcoming new performers with the classic and the historic.  The film is a burst of dazzling color, introduced in the first frame with the classic, and luscious red in the form of a fluid crimson jersey dress on a beguiling dancer.  The look immediately identifies not only Saura but Vittorio Storaro (also the cameraman for Apocalypse Now, Last Tango in Paris)


The exclusive Los Angeles engagement of Flamenco, Flamenco is currently at the Laemmle's Royal, Town Center 5 and Playhouse 7.  The 90-minute film is in Spanish with English subtitles


Saura’s  Flamenco Trilogy of the 1980s includes Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), Carmen, and El amor brujo featuring the work of Spanish flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos. He later made Flamenco (1995), Tango (1998), and Fados (2007).


Dramatic, raw yet polished and astonishingly intricate performances captivate from beginning to end.   Flamenco, Flamenco was filmed at the Seville Expo '92 pavilion in 2010 using dramatic, huge paintings by Goya Picasso, Goya and Klimt as backdrops.  Fred Astaire would be happy; Saura films the dancers and musicians as though we were in the audience watching them instead of usning zooms and melodramatic angles.  


In Saura’s words: “It is always difficult to write about the ideas that lead me to create my musical film… the actual scripts I use are barely three or four pages long, where the different dances that have been chosen are in order, with the artist’s name and the space in which the dance might develop. It is even more difficult because part of the stimulus, the fun that always comes with the filming (which) is based – let's face it – on the possibility of improvising in this type of cinema.


The first job was to look for the artists who would star in the film…. and important decision regarding the film without the help of a magnificent adviser, Isidro Muñoz, Manolo Sanlúcar’s brother. We both agree that there is a new and incredibly powerful flamenco; flamenco by young talents who are trying to make it in our country and abroad. They have so much to offer. .. yet there are important names have become part of the ‘core’ of the musical structure of the film; a kind of tree trunk on which to support the rest: Estrella Morente, Sara Baras, Miguel Poveda, Israel Galván, Eva la Yerbabuena... Such talent! “


Saura’s comprehensive entails all four of Flamenco’s traditional four main settings. though not in any progressive order.  The “jam session” or juerga is depicted in the very small and the group format.  One lively, personal segment looks in at men at a small table who simply start their performance informally with the famous handclaps.  It perfectly exemplifies the juerga’s nature as a spontaneous gathering, similar to a jazz "jam session" that also comes with a large group.


The more formal professional concert is also represented with the traditional solo singer and one guitar. Finally comes the sophisticated, more theatrical and currently popular presentation of flamenco in a dance concert.  This usually features two or three guitars, one or more singers singing solo in turn and one or more dancer and is comparable to a ballet and performed by highly trained professionals.


Flamenco is surprisingly one of over three hundred National Dances in Spain, yet it is the best known and enthralls audience all over the world.  Flamenco originated in Southern Spain in the early 18th century, as a result of the migration of the multi-ethnic mix of gypsies from the Northern and Southern borders of Spain, who shared their cultural heritage in song, dance and music. 


Flamenco became more than song, dance and music.  It has earned the definition of “a way of life” because of the philosophical lyrics; the oriental and Mediterranean tones, backed by complex polyrhythmic meters, and many percussive forms of cultural dance forms.


Often considered together, the Argentine Tango is much more urban and stylized and was developed in the late 19th century in working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires/Argentina and Montevideo/Uruguay.  Even after becoming internationally acclaimed, it retains the same concentrated movements of the original.


Carlos Saura’s visually stunning film is a treasure for the ages of pristine performances and an education.  A treat to see on the big screen because, as Saura concludes, it is the “heritage of the universe.” 

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