La Paquera de Jerez (Actor), Merche Esmeralda (Actor), Carlos Saura (Director)
Dance Performance DVD
DP01 Classic Dance Performances DVD - La Paquera de Jerez (Actor), Merche Esmeralda (Actor), Carlos Saura (Director) - Flamenco - Dance Performance DVD - Exploring the sensuous delights and dark mysteries of life by uniting music , song, and dance, Flamenco is one of the purest and most stunning performance films ever made. With an exceptional history that reaches back nearly five hundred years, the magnificent art of Flamenco has long been an integral part of the Spanish heart and culture. Joining three hundred of the world's greatest Flamenco performers with master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor), director Carlos Saura has magnificently transferred the beauty and power of Flamenco to the screen. The result is an unbroken series of electrifying numbers that range in emotion from heartbreak to elation and that shimmer with sexual energy while reaching a thrilling level of virtuosity. Performance as art, flamenco as art and performance is what this film captures. Minimilist in tradional theatrical enticements this film captures the pure essence of the total flamenco experience. No fancy Hollywood set designs, extravagant staging is nil, this is pure art, the performances stand alone. At times the lighting only reveals a siloutte, never detracting from the pure essence. The film captures an indoor gitano gathering where all participants are involved, from just handclapping and chorus to center stage vocals and dance, all the gitanos interact and compliment one another. The beauty in this film comes from different angles, the authenticity, the various styles of flamenco, the emotions the artists emote and the feelings that are brought out in the viewer. So many different people perform that it is hard to identify indidviduals, which may be just the intent of the director as the cohesion of the gitano family in performance seems to be most important. One of the intriguing aspects of this performance is that there are so many older performers, who dominate and captivate the viewer. If one listens and closes ones eyes momentarily, it is hard to imagine one is listening to people well into their sixties and older. A brilliant moment is when a young gitano of maybe twelve years of age performs a stunning dance, a visually blazing with speed dervish solo and then is suddenly joined by an elder gitano who accompanies him. The juxtaposition is unforgetable as the young boy and elder each pay homage to each other, in unison, dancing off the set. The guitar work is fabulous by various masters including a sensational set by Paco de Lucia and even the modern interpretations of flamenco by Ketama. This is THE flamenco film. Carlos Saura, famous for his work with the great Antonio Gades (Blood Wedding, Carmen and El Amor Brujo) and for his portrait of Andalusian folklore in Sevillanas, creates one of the best flamenco films ever made. The focus in this work is on the performers and their performances. Sets are minimal and there is no story except that generated by the lyrics of the flamenco songs themselves. The director is careful to capture not only the larger aspects of the performances but also to zero in on the emotional engagement of the performers with their art . Flamenco is as much about the performer's struggles with the art and the emotions that underpin it as it is about a stage presentation. This is an intimate film despite the fact that it was shot in a train station. The sets, lighting and camera work continually direct your focus to that intimate space created by the performers. The conceit of the film is a journey not only through flamenco's different styles as embodied by some of the art's greatest contemporary performers, but also a journey into the night. Not only is the night evoked through lighting effects, but the deep inner recesses of the soul are suggested as well, that inner wellspring from which flamenco itself arises. This is the most profound exploration of flamenco ever captured on film. To understand flamenco, there is no better place to start than with Carlos Saura's masterpiece I dare you to find a better documentarian on the art of flamenco than Saura. Simply bringing this obsure but masterful artform to video is magical enough, but to have Saura do it is miraculous. He has chosen from the best that could be gathered in Spain, and did an awesome job putting them on a 2 hour video. They only criticism is that this is not available on DVD, but no matter, it is a MUST for anyone who is a true flamenco purist or musicologist. The piece is beautifully staged, perfectly photographed and ingeniously edited.
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I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong. -Leo Rosten
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