The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde, a person who observes his own failure with ironic distance and regards the difficulties that beset his life with detachment and humor.
Aurelio and Citlali meet each other in a small hotel of Mexico City during the darkest days of theirs lives. He just buried his son, murdered in broad daylight. She had to abandon her ... See full summary »
Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister's wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.
Callas was, almost without question, the greatest singing *musician* of the 20th century, not a "singer" or "singing actress" (a term that damns with faint praise), but a transcendent artist. This film doesn't deal with that Callas. It focuses exclusively on the details of personal mismanagement that she would never have wanted aired, being, by nature, a very private person. It includes some new footage, but it's all presented chaotically, mismatching music to visuals, jumping back and forth in time by years; it's exhausting.
Well-known extant concert footage, all from after the zenith of her great career, is colorized needlessly. It is a moving elegy but manipulative of the viewer's emotions; it tugs at our heart strings in a way Callas would have found embarrassing and irritating. In life, Callas was tough--as musicians have to be, and all that interested her were the nuts-and-bolts details of the music itself. In the unmentioned, important Juilliard master classes that she taught in 1971, there is a famous moment that is emblematic of the real Callas: a mezzo-soprano makes a histrionic gesture with her voice in Azucena's Act II aria from Verdi's IL TROVATORE. Callas stops her and asks "What was that?" The student replies "It was a cry of despair." Callas responds "It's not a cry of despair. It's a B-flat."
To the film's credit, there are a few full musical selections (even if colorized jarringly), though it has its share of annoyingly tantalizing snippets. To its detriment, nothing, but nothing, is identified properly and the chronological roller-coaster ride that is 'Maria by Callas' will leave at sea anyone without an encyclopedic knowledge of the woman's unfortunate post-career private life. The director also shows his amazing naivete by using only Callas' version of events; she was quite self-serving and the facts of various matters are often very different from the way she wanted to present them.
Why do film makers only seem to concentrate on Callas "the woman," "the star," "the diva," "the tragic figure," rather than the super-serious, perfectionist artist who set the world of music on fire beginning in 1949 and altered forever the way we listen? It's apparently because they have no idea how to talk about music nor have any interest in what Callas was really about.
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