There may have once been a grain of truth in the original Merimeé novel, but it has been turned into an icon beyond recognition as much as La Dame Aux Camelias has. Vivian Romance camps it up playing "gitaine" for all it's worth. She plays it like grand opera, probably the director's immediate frame of reference. When one thinks of the Rom one thinks of oppressed people, and it is perfectly consistent to see a young woman from an oppressed group as a sexpot--- that's their value. It is no accident that the story has been redone with former slaves (Carmen Jones) and by Senegal, although in that case, while still oppressed and clandestine, she is more in command than some of the others. Two of the best Carmens are by Sara Montiel and Imperio Argentina, although there is no question that we are watching a bourgeois stereotype regarding what the directors consider a "lower class." Romance's Carmen is worth seeing for comparison.
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