Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Flamenco has been mocked by Hollywood for years, depicted as Hispanic divas leaping onto tables and twirling their skirts in an energetic fashion, while stamping loudly in time to a gypsy combo.

Carlos Saura's approach is the antithesis of this. With clarity and simplicity, he demonstrates the passion, finesse, elegance and sensuality of a hybrid form of music that has evolved from African, Castilian, Greek and Persian melodies.

On a bare set, using occasional chairs for musicians to sit on and a clever use of lighting, he protects the performers from cinematic indulgence. This is the pure, unadulterated thing, raw voices without accompaniment, a lone dancer silhouetted against a white screen, guitarists playing off each other.

What is missing is the showbiz falsehood of those Hollywood images. Instead, there are hands and feet, commitment and grace, men sitting in suits singing their lungs out, women with their hair tied back, sleek as racehorses, raptured and captured by the rhythm.

There is no age barrier, nor any need to present the dance as a sexual metaphor. If the dresses exentuate the beauty of the female form, it is the delicacy of their movement, rather than salacious intent, that turns your heart around.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Flamenco packshot
The real flamenco in song and dance.
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Director: Carlos Saura

Writer: Carlos Saura

Starring: La Paquera de Jerez, Merche Esmeralda, Manolo Sanlucar, Joaquin Cortes, Manuel Moneo

Year: 1995

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: Spain


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