Passionate, dramatic, riveting as Flamenco itself, the film is simply amazing. It is set on the immortal Bizet's music. The original music is written and performed by one of the greatest classical guitarists, leading proponent of the Modern Flamenco style, Paco de Lucia who plays a musician with the same name. Legendary Flamenco dancer and choreographer Antonio Gades co/wrote the script and choreographed this fabulous version of the celebrated Georges Bizet/Prosper Mérimée novella/opera. He plays a main character Antonio, the famous dancer/choreographer who works on retelling the story of Carmen in the Flamenco style that combines dances with singing and rhythmic hand clapping and has a highly charged level of dynamics that appeals enormously to the viewers.
Brilliant and graceful Cristina Hoyos whose technical excellence matches the elegant artistry of her dancing shines in the supporting role. Hoyos had been the first dancer in Gades' company for twenty years (1968-1988) and she was the protagonist of three films that Carlos Saura made of Gades' three great shows: "Bodas de Sangre" (1978), "Carmen" (1983) and "El Amor Brujo" (1985). Gorgeous Laura del Sol is a young dancer named Carmen in whom Antony sees from the first sight another Carmen, who was immortalized by two Frenchmen, the writer Prosper Mérimée in his most famous novella written in 1846 that had inspired George Bizet's world famous Opéra-Comique version from 1875.
As in the opera and in the novella, Carmen in Saura's film is desirable and deadly, the ultimate femme fatale who has to be free above anything else. She could not tolerate the possessive love of any man and would prefer death to submission. There are some 50 movie adaptations of the story and the opera to the screen, and as different as they are, they all have in common the only possible tragic end. Saura/Gades' film is unique as the most sensual of all and truly Spanish. I fell in love with it from the first time I saw it over twenty years ago and it is as special and beautiful today as it was back then. Highly recommended.