Carlos Saura dies | Carlos Saura: the director who told flamenco the best on the screen

02/10/2023 at 18:20


Throughout his prolific career, the Aragonese dedicated numerous films -some documentaries, others musicals- to show one of his great passions, ‘jondo’ art

He always told in interviews that tried to be a dancer, and since he was not able to achieve it, he became film director. The truth is that since his first short film -titled Flemish (from 1955)-, the career of the Aragonese director Carlos Saura, born in Huesca in 1932 and who died this Friday, has been linked to flamenco. “Perhaps that is why I have made flamenco films: what I could not dance, the others did & rdquor ;, she said in an interview for the RTVE program A country in dance in 2021.

First she approached him hand in hand with the great bailaor Antonio Gades, with the trilogy Blood Wedding (1981), Carmen (1983) and The love wizard (1986). It was the first of the three, in ballet format, that captivated the director as a spectator and would lead him to propose this collaboration to Gades. The three films served the director to drive away Flemish of stereotypes imposed on it by the Franco dictatorship, treated as a minor folkloric art and to try, in the same way that the dancer Gades was doing with his productions, to bring dance closer to contemporary times and bring it closer to the level of other artistic disciplines, playing with fiction and documentary. Carmenan adaptation of Bizet’s opera, also had great international success, and was awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and selected for the Oscar.

I would return to the genre, but in a completely different way, formally and in content, with Sevillanas (1991), which he filmed at the height of the genre’s boom, at a time when millions of records were being sold and many flamenco artists approached him. He did not want to address this film, and the subsequent Flemish (1995), and flamingo, flamingo (2010), as he did with Gades: he preferred to do it in a format closer to documentary, but with the artists performing in a studio.

All three titles offer a wide range of trends that coexisted at the time in its genre -in the case of the sevillanas, too, from the corraleras of Lebrija, the ones popularized by Lorca and la Argentinita, to the slow sevillanas on the piano by Manuel Pareja Obregón and, of course, different ways of dancing them as well- and they also serve as record of great artistic moments: a guitar dialogue between two maestros, Paco de Lucía and Manolo SanlúcarLola Flores dancing with a bata de cola, or a Island Shrimp singing sevillanas in his last months of life that Manuela Carrasco dances for him, to name a few examples.

With these tapes, Saura also managed to develop a visual language closely linked to the scenic representation itself of music and dance, playing with the lighting, the movement of the camera and the decoration of the sets to accompany the artists, but without robbing them of prominence.

He was also capable of immortalizing the flamenco of the moment in each of the tapes, counting on the names of reference from the 90s, in the case of Flamenco, and from the 2000s, in the case of Flamenco, flamenco, but always showing diversity.