In the sorrow of exile, a group of Argentinians in Paris seek solace and connection to their culture by staging a set of tangos. The film alternates between their vibrant rehearsals and their circumscribed lives in low-rent apartments, underemployed, fitfully communicating with families back home, trying to make do with what they hope are only temporary arrangements in a foreign land. Written by
The look and the sound of this film are quite good and the dancing is excellent. I have, however, a serious reservation about this film related to the culturally outdated elements in that it is not focused so much on Tango per se, but on Apache, a dance once popular in Paris ballrooms but which was more or less banned after some women were, it is said, killed in the process of dancing.
Let me explain.
The street toughs of Paris, once named for the famous Arizona Indian tribe, the Apache (commonly called ah-Patch-ee) were know as the Apache (pronounced ah-Pash) The dance, known as the Apache was a ballroom curiosity based on a theatrical dance in which, in the standard form, the woman plays the role of the prostitute unwilling to share her wages with her pimp who then proceeds to beat her up in a graceful and, no doubt, elevated artistic manner. This lead to the death of some dancers.
This is the basis of several of the dances in this film. One wonders why, in the early part of the twenty first century one should anticipate being entertained by the artful beating of exploited women, even when that abuse is meted out to the graceful strains of the Argentinian Tango on the streets of Paris, France.
One may argue, of course, that this is a product of a different cultural place and time and that it might be inappropriate to be judgmental about the customs of far away places like Paris and Buenos Aires. According to this point of view the Apache is a cultural artifact, like slavery or cock fighting, to be admired as pure art. If that is true then perhaps the advocates would like to recast the Apache into a less obnoxiously offensive form, such as the passionate rivalry of a young mother and her confessor, or something of the sort.
I understand that the Apache is almost entirely forgotten outside of France and Argentina although it has recently popped up in Moulin Rouge, in Tango, a film by Carlos Saura, and in various music videos. I had some correspondence on this point when a remarkably Apache like video was produced for a song by the Italian singer Elisa Toffoli which appeared to have her being beaten up by her boy friend.
In the present time the abuse of women is largely confined to some rap videos and similar creations, such as "Slap my Bith Up" by, if memory serves correctly, Underworld.
Is it not time to consign this sort of thing to the mists of history?
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