A group of gypsy smugglers are frustrated in their attempts to bring their contraband into the city by Don Jose, an incorruptible officer in the Civil Guard. In order to help her kinsmen, the sultry Carmen seduces him, persuading him to abandon his post and look the other way. When his infatuation leads him to kill a fellow guardsman in order to prevent her arrest, he becomes a wanted fugitive. The capricious, fickle Carmen resents his possessiveness and leaves him for a famous toreador in Seville. Obsessed and frustrated, a distraught Don Jose follows her to the bullring with tragic consequences. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As some of the other reviewers have said, Geraldine Farrar is quite extraordinary in this film. She is most evidently having the time of her life, freed from the shackles of the operatic stage and the tyranny of those conventions which demand conformity. Her instincts were obviously spontaneous, and her body language and facial expressions go far beyond what was expected in an operatic performance, in those days and even now. "You have killed me, but I am free!" You can sense this freedom in every frame of the movie. The restored film is beautiful, amazingly clear and vibrant, with the tinting adding greatly to the effect. The one thing I found jarring, however, was the music! Gillian Anderson (the conductor, not the actress) performed a labor of love in resuscitating Hugo Riesenfeld's original orchestral score, complete with vocal soloists, but for all that, frequently the music is at odds with the film, despite -- or perhaps because of -- being excerpted from Bizet's opera. There are too many episodes in the film that have no direct counterpart in the music, and I feel it would have been better to give a Carl Davis or his brilliant equivalent the freedom to write a totally new score, especially since the film is based on Merimee's novel rather than the opera libretto of Halevy. Until that happens, I'll prefer to watch the film without sound, but watch it I will!
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