Blood Wedding (1981) Poster

(1981)

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9/10
Dig deep
pablopaz23 December 2000
The play on which this film is based is Federico García - Lorca's classic, poetic drama. The playwright/poet/actor/artist, who was probably Salvador Dalí's lover, was a brilliant sensualist who understood the power of myth and rural life. In this movie the story that is being performed on stage, the story that is taking place off stage, the whole weight of Spanish history and culture, the weight of flamenco as ballet and as folk art, and modern myths of romantic love are layered over and over each other. The movie is inexorable -- even when you realize the outcome, you are drawn hypnotized into it. Perhaps the greatest dance film ever made! You MUST see it.
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7/10
Dancing a Play – The Beginning of a Dance Trilogy
claudio_carvalho25 November 2005
A company of Flamenco dancers rehearsal a play of Federico Garcia Lorca about a wedding imposed by the parents to the bride. She is indeed in love of another man, and when the groom finds her with her lover, they duel with razors, ending tragically the feast.

"Bodas de Sangre" is an original movie, where a play is danced in a room. I personally like this folkloric Spanish gypsy style of music and dancing, therefore I liked this film. However, I agree that for those viewers not used to this type of dancing and music, this art movie probably is boring. The group of dancers is excellent, and gives a wonderful choreography and interpretation. This film is the beginning of Carlos Saura's dance trilogy, completed with "Carmen" (1983) and "El Amor Brujo" (1986). My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Bodas de Sangue" ("Blood Wedding Feast")
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10/10
Flamenco love
Medeea12 July 1999
The human body uses the dance language to tell the simple story of damned love. The ballet, far from being a tool incidental to communication, carries within itself a whole body of assumptions about love and death, about sin and punishment.

The story line is simple. A bride elopes with her lover in the very day of her wedding. The groom follows the two lovers, and a knife fight takes place. The rivals stab each other and the only wedding that takes place is that one knotting their destinies together in death. A blood wedding.

Besides from the unearthly beauty of the dance spilling out of the dancers bodies on the Flamenco rhythm, the film goes a long way toward shaping and determining the kind of thoughts one is able to have on the controversial topic of sinful love.
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10/10
Even If You Care Little For Dance
druid333-25 May 2009
You will be mesmerized by this beautifully filmed production of Blood Wedding. The plot (of sorts):a dress rehearsal of an upcoming production of the classic Flamenco ballet is viewed,with the various dancers,musicians,etc. arriving one by one,with the dance taking up the bulk of the film. This was the first part of a quartet of films focusing on Flamenco culture (the others being Saura's Flamenco adaptation of 'Carmen','Love The Magician',and 'Flamenco'--all worth seeking out on DVD,or even better,a screening in a cinema proper,if you can find a cinema that is reviving Saura's films). Emotional,passionate music is also a key player that acts as the backdrop,as well as the usual sumptuous photography & editing that is typical of any Carlos Saura production. At least a couple of different cuts of the film seem to be available (most European editions clock in at around 72 minutes,but there is a 67 minute cut,as well).Spoken in Spanish with English subtitles. Not rated by the MPAA,but nothing to offend even the most ardent prude.
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9/10
"The weeping of the guitar begins…"
Galina_movie_fan5 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I've wanted to see the first film in the Carlos Saura -Antonio Gades' flamenco trilogy, Blood Wedding(Bodas de sangre), 1981, for many years, after I saw and was fascinated by the second entry in the trilogy, Carmen (1983). Bodas de Sangre has impressed me as much as Carmen. The film chronicles one day of the Gades's dancing company which members gather for the dress rehearsal of the ballet based on the drama by Federico Garcia Lorca and performed in flamenco style. First twenty minutes or so depict the dancers arriving to the theater and preparing for the dress rehearsal. Saura's camera follows the performers while they apply the make- up and change the clothes for the stage costumes. In this part of the film, Antonio Gades shares his memories of becoming a dancer and of the artists who had influenced him.

Then, we are transported to the past, on the day of the fateful wedding that would change forever the lives of three people, the Bride (Cristina Hoyes), her Lover Leonardo ( Antonio Gades ), and the Groom (Juan Antonio Jimenez) and these close to them, forever. The powerful, intense, passionate yet restrained, the ballet choreographed by Antonio Gades is excellent. The tragic story of two ill-fated lovers first told by Lorca and then re-told in the language of uniquely Spanish art of flamenco that combines Guitar music, dance, and singing. The dancers express the deepest emotions and burning desires in perfectly fluid neat movements that are captured by the camera of film director, Carlos Saura.

The unforgettable film seems very simple on the surface because it never leaves the rehearsal studio. There are no elaborate set decorations or stunning visuals. The costumes are simple and the color black dominates with the one exception only, the white color for the Bride's wedding gown, her shoes and stockings. The strength of Saura's vision is in following the performers closely and making the viewer a participant of the tragic story that happens in front of us. The final scene of the film is quite extraordinary considering that there were no special effects used during the filming. The duel on the knives between the groom and the lover takes place for as long as 6 minutes in slow motion in silence. Maybe it was so slow because both men knew that in the end of it there will be death and the time stopped for them. How the performers could maintain the perfect movements, bending in the impossible angles and expressing the powerful emotions in that almost impossible to imagine slow tempo -is a great secret and a stunning achievement of the performers, the choreographer who staged the scene, and the director who had captured them.
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Flamenco portrayal
elscorrcho20 December 1999
In an attempt to transform Lorca's play into film, Saura has used the art of the popular Spanish tradition, Flamenco. Without ever uttering a word of dialogue, the performers of the Flamenco dance are able to portray the basic plot and themes of the original script, based on a true story. The basic plot, two lovers unable to be together, is generally easy to follow through the entirety of the dance. However, if ballet is not of personal interest, even the brief 70 minutes of this movie will seem an eternity. The entire second half of the film is Lorca's play in the form of dance. To add to the film's focus on dance, the first half shows the dancers warming up and preparing for their performance. This type of movie will appeal to those who can appreciate the art of dance and to those whose patience won't wear thin. For the full effect of Bodas de sangre, I would highly recommend Lorca's original version over the film.
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Themes Untouched
slevin18 December 1999
As I watched the movie Bodas de sangre, I was completely disturbed. Although I like the Flamenco and appreciated how Carlos Saura, the director, incorporated it into the movie I wonder where some of the important themes went. The movie shows the emotions of the characters through the Flamenco however it fails to touch on some of the most significant ideas of the play. This movie lacks the themes that made the play so compelling. For instance, the importance of virginity, la honra, is totally forgotten. We don't see the mother's disappointment with her son's choice of a wife because the girlfriend had another boyfriend. Money and the desire for land are ignored as well as the significance of destiny. The viewer never understands the importance of destiny in regards to Leonardo and the groom. Also, the viewer cannot see that the characters in the book are nameless except for Leonardo. Maybe if I had not read the play before watching Bodas de sangre I wouldn't have been so disappointed. I thought that the Flamenco was a useful tool for showing emotion but couldn't carry the entire movie.
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9/10
Simplicity is the way to art.
goyoimdb1 March 2000
How can a film be so simple, and yet so beaultiful? It's easy to see that the film must has costed almost nothing, and it's very very simple: just shows a dance group showing it's art. But the impressive corporal and facial expressions, the intense dance and all emotions envolved, the ones in the tragic story and the ones in the real story of the dancers, makes this film a simple work of art. Simple as a movie, but art as it is.
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5/10
How do you make a combination of Lorca and flamenco dull? Get Carlos Saura to direct it.
alice liddell24 August 1999
I had found Saura's last film, TANGO, trite and insulting, but I decided to give him another chance, in deference to his reputation. I needn't have bothered. Whatever his talent as a chronicler of character under oppression, he has no ability to film dance. He has no faith in dance's own expressive tropes, so he must impose meaning on them. He films in a flat, leaden style, which never allows the dance to come to life.

Like TANGO, Saura foregrounds a self-reflexivity on the film. This time, however, it is used relatively intelligently. There is a pretence of documentary as we watch 'famed' choreographer Antonio Gades prepare for his flamenco adaptation of Lorca's Blood Wedding. We see the preparations of the dancers, the (tedious) warm ups, the donning of costumes.

None of this is gratuitous (although the lingering on the undressing female dancers might be), and is infinitely preferable to the fictional ponderings of TANGO. The opening credits roll over a sepia photograph of the cast, mimicking the period in which the play was set. Lorca was, of course, a famous leftist, murdered by Fascists in the Civil War, and this is a film, made only a few years after Franco's death, that attempts to come to terms with Spanish history. The lengthy process of rehearsal emphasises the process of becoming, suggesting that history is not the monolithic entity the Right would like it to be, but a fluid interpretive searching, grasping, for the truth. The repeated gazing into mirrors links this national quest with an examination of the self. And yet Old Spain is not so quickly vanquished - one dancer hangs religious pictures on her mirror.

So, the dance is made to carry a lot of baggage. We are not given the actual performance, but a dress rehearsal, continuing the idea of becoming, as if to offer a fixed definitive version would be to concede to the enemy. This austere restriction to one bare space, without sets, without any help from Saura, means that the dancing has to be spectacular for the film to succeed. It is not, being rather conservative, and blindingly obvious and literal, the dance equivalent of dialogue sung in a Lloyd-Webber musical. Every gesture is laboriously spelt out; the viewer is credited with no intelligence.

It is totally inadequate to the play's politics, and the pared down approach means we lose its febrile, exhilirating excess. The critique of machismo and the death wish, applied to Spanish culture as a whole, is still there, but the climactic stand-off, while comparitively inventive, is more silly than cathartic, like Cavalliera Rusticana with the sound down. It is odd that a film so critical of the macho ethic should be so...macho.

As with TANGO, any effect the film has lies in the music, which, especially in the mariachi wedding sequence, provides the drama and beauty absent from the filming itself.
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Murmurs of blood before mirrors
chaos-rampant29 June 2013
I am drawn to dance films, first for the dance itself, I marvel at how the human body can turn itself into visual music. But also for what dance can signify in a cinematic sense: the embodying of sense in form, the visual flow of consciousness, but where the camera is one of the dancers and wordlessly conveys whole essences in the space of what we see.

Here, I like the idea of centering the dance in the ordinary life that gives rise to it, so in the same flow we can pick up both improvised life and meticulous abstraction. We get the gathering of the troupe and preparations, the putting on of make-up and dressing-room small talk, the practice and rehearsal with its mistakes, and then a full dress rehearsal of the play instead of a big show.

My gripe is that so much more could've been made on the weaving of realities. We have a 'real' first half, but we're not immersed long enough to form connections. The feel like we are eavesdropping could be carried in the actual danced narrative, which is about secrets and watching. The energy and choreographed spillovers in the camera could be more rigorous, the flamenco more passionate. Imagine a mistake in the flow like in the first rehearsal, but they dance through it: how do we accommodate damage, chance, spontaneity?

As it is, there's too much theatric symmetry for me to like—not enough that is broken or alive. But at least the last scene is pretty amazing.

It's a knife fight between men for the eyes of the woman danced in slow-motion—the mirrored poise and grappling of pride mistaken as love, the arrested flow playing to the desired spectacle of manhood both by us and in the play, the ballet of camera singling again and again the knife, the woman's muted mimicked and impotent horror of watching. It's a lovely scene that I'll keep with me, a sort of visual carving in emotional time.
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