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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Fados, a film by Carlos Saura

    As you know, Carlos Saura filmed the gorgeous Tango, an extremely beautiful semi-documentary (there is tenuous plot) about the fabulous Argentine genre. He also did Flamenco, and today I saw his Fados.



    92 minutes, released on DVD by Zeitgeist Video in 2009 (filmed in 2007). 1.85:1, stereo, color, region 1 NTSC. Sung in Portuguese with some Spanish. Optional English subtitles.

    Well, don't go into it expecting the phenomenal masterpiece that Tango was. Saura tried to use similar sets with strong colors, reflective surfaces, and dancers, but the problem is that Fado is not a dance, like Tango is. And he spent way too long trying to trace the origins of the art form, and while it is moderately interesting (there are 18th century songs, and rhythms and dances from Africa, for example, and some of the songs are good), it becomes musically disconnected and boring. There is even a sort of fado rap, what the hell was that???

    So after about one hour and five minutes of the above - and the opening clip is so annoying, noisy and loud (percussion only) that it may discourage viewers - I was already enraged at the lost opportunity to show to the world a genre that I love so much.

    Finally, finally, at about the 1h5' mark, Saura got going with real fado, showing a projected clip with Amália Rodrigues. Next, Brazilian musician and singer Caetano Veloso interprets a song by Amália Rodrigues, "Estranha Forma de Vida" and things pick up. Caetano doesn't sing it as well as Amália used to sing it. He tries a falsetto and is not very successful (his regular voice which is never shown is actually very beautiful), but at least the song is gorgeous. Then from there, we get another Brazilian, Chico Buarque (arguably the best popular song-writer in Brazil), singing his spectacular song "Fado Tropical" which is shown over ancient footage of Portugal's April Revolution. Then we are treated to an extremely beautiful rendition of "Meu Fado Meu" with the excellent Mariza, and a Spanish guy Miguel Poveda in a duet with her, but he interprets the song Flamenco style. Sublime! And we get at last to the really real thing, like I used to witness in the Lisbon night life: Saura films real Portuguese people in one of the Lisbon fado houses, in a sort of karaoke night, and these singers treat us to five beautiful fados in rapid succession. Mariza then interprets phenomenally another great Amália Rodrigues song, "Ó Gente da Minha Terra" over a bird eye view of the sets, and the credits roll.

    I'll tell you what, Mr. Saura, I'd have filmed a better documentary than this one. It is still a wasted opportunity, especially because most people will grow frustrated with the first 65 minutes and will likely drop the film before the last and gorgeous 25 minutes. Oh well. I'm grateful for these 25 minutes, though.

    Here is that House of Fados:



    Caetano Veloso in a scene from the film

    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 12th, 2017 at 01:11 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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