Moment of Truth (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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The Moment of Truth, from director Francesco Rosi (Salvatore Giuliano) is a visceral plunge into the life of a famous torero—played by real-life bullfighting legend Miguel Mateo, known as Miguelin. Charting his rise and fall with a single-minded focus on the bloody business at hand, the film is at once gritty and operatic, placing the viewer right in the thick of the ring’s action, as close to death as possible. Like all of the great Italian truth seeker’s films, this is a not just an electrifying drama but also a profound and moving inquiry into a violent world—and perhaps the greatest bullfighting movie ever made.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition • Interview with director Francesco Rosi from 2004 • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Peter Matthews
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But The Moment of Truth is not for everyone. If you have any protective feelings toward animals, and you are going to watch this, prepare yourself. Like I said earlier, this is a bloody movie, and every time you see a bull die its gory death, you actually did see a bull die a gory death. So while the beauty of the sport comes through, so does the butchery. Finally, it seemed to me that the story was the second emphasis of the film. That's not to say its poorly acted or even without emotional content. The Moment of Truth clearly points out the nightmarish worlds Miguelin, and others in his position, felt forced to choose between. I just mean that, to me, it seemed like Rosi's main intent was to capture the full scope of bull fighting. While that may make The Moment of Truth the best movie of its kind, it also makes it, at moments, feel more like a documentary than a movie. Think about it.
Several Hollywood pictures have used bullfighting and its milieu ( "Blood and Sand," "The Matador," "The Bullfighter and the Lady"), but none has captured the day-to-day drama as well as "The Moment of Truth." Mateo is a charismatic actor, and his dramatic scenes outside the arena come off convincingly, particularly his romantic scenes with co-star Linda Christian.
Though the setting is Spain, the movie is in Italian with English subtitles. Blu-ray bonus extras include a 2004 interview with director Francesco Rosi, new English subtitles, and a booklet containing a critical essay.
Still the film missed an undefinable something. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that the actors are speaking primarily Italian. I think it would have been better if everyone had been speaking Spanish with Italian subtitles. The corrida is, after all, singularly Spanish. Also, the film missed something of the glory, music and pageantry that is a magnificent Spanish or Mexican corrida. Not once do we hear the band blasting out the full refrain of "La Virgen de la Macarena."
Also, there is overemphasis of matador "spills" and cornadas. The corrida is something that touches something unique in the Spanish soul--the melding of courage, art, dance and tragedy....but....the tragedy is supposed to be the death of the bull not the discomfiture of the matador. The fact that the matador faces grim death closely, elegantly and even with arrogance, is certainly an important part of "La Corrida", but the matador getting gored is not an acceptable part of the spectacle. It is no more appropriate to the corrida than is the prima ballerina falling on her face in an otherwise perfect "Swan Lake" or a gymnast breaking his neck when he goes through his routine on the high bar. Accident, injury and death must be seen as potential but such unfortunate events interfere with an art form suffused with necessary courage.