Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Carmen (1984)

(aka: Bizet's Carmen)



Reviews and Comments

This is the best of the various filmed versions of Georges Bizet's famous opera Carmen and probably the one that most feels like an operatic experience. Those who have not heard of the opera have surely heard its music, particularly the energetic opening and the majestic toreador number. But my favorite is the gypsy dance right in the middle, during which the music and dance get more and more frenetic and frenzied until it ends in a shattering crescendo. There are quieter moments, too, that evoke the suffering of the heart in ways only music can. Some of these sequences do run longer than necessary, but that's more a criticism of the opera than the movie.

The opera, written in French but set in Spain, stars Julia Migenes as Carmen and Placido Domingo as Don Jose. Don Jose is an upstanding soldier who falls in love with the gypsy Carmen, whose fickleness regarding men can turn deadly. Over a century later, we're telling this same story in sex thrillers, which just goes to show how much things change, yet stay the same. It also shows just how compelling certain archetypal stories can latch onto the human psyche with an iron grip. Carmen has endured in part because it is one such story, and in part, of course, because the music is so phenomenal.

Other Versions

Related Films