Having taken on flamenco ("Sevillanas") and tango ("Tango"), Carlos Saura tackles a third great melancholy music style, directing "Fados," a celebration of Portugal's classic, lamenting acoustic folk songs. The film combines fado performances from top artists, dance from Portugal, Brazil and Cape Verde and archive footage. In the song centrepieces, artists deliver contemporary versions of fado classics. Lined up fadistas include young female star Mariza as well as Grammy award-winner Carlos do Carmo. Renowned diva Amália Rodrigues is remembered through arquive footage while the exploration of fado's influences and roots gives opportunities to embrace prestigious Brazilian performers Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque and the emerging Cape Verdean star Lura.
I had the privilege to see "Fados" yesterday, at its premiere in Lisbon. I'm also a Saura's fan, since "Cria Cuervos" (1975) and I saw most of his films, including the famous Flamenco trilogy (Bodras De Sangre, Carmen and Amor Brujo). I also saw and liked very much the following musicals, "Sevilhanas", "Flamenco" and "Tangos". But those were films where Saura could expressed his art on his own culture (with exception of "Tangos"). In "Fados" (an invitation of several Portuguese institutions to make a film to promote the Lisbon's song) Saura mixed too many things with no connection at all. The argument was that Fado was not popular enough and therefore he needed "big" names to promote it (?!). Well, you may say that Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Lilla Downs, Lura or Miguel Poveda are good singers. But they are certainly not fado singers! The other mistake was to mix modern dance with the songs. Fado has no dance element (like Flamenco or Tango) in it. It's a disturbing element that doesn't help the reality. One may hope that "Fados" will be a bestseller, but its not a serious film. It's a pity.
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