Blood Wedding (1981)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 72 min.  |   Countries - Spain   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Presented in almost a documentary fashion, Bodas de Sangre combines cinema and dance in a seamless manner that few films have achieved. The basic idea of the film -- a simple dress rehearsal in a bare hall -- does not sound like it has much cinematic potential, but director Carlos Saura turns the film into a beautiful cinematic tour de force, moving his camera with as much grace and rhythm as the dancers themselves (with, of course, the invaluable aid of cinematographer Teo Escamilla). Saura strikes just the right balance of using the camera to enhance the experience, while at the same time allowing the dance to speak for itself. He never intrudes on or competes with the dance, and indeed his touch is so light and subtle that at times the camera almost disappears. Only once does he noticeably misstep, when he makes the mistake of shooting a scene from a bird's-eye view, which is so distracting it temporarily shatters the illusion. He soon regains his footing. Saura has stripped the film of all of its inessentials, and created a perfect unity of dance and the cinema, the two art forms complementing each other. And in the climactic knife fight of Leonardo and the groom, Saura brings all of his techniques together, in a beautifully staged focus on pure dance and movement; at that moment, only movement is relevant and even music is insufficient to convey the passion of the scene. It almost goes without saying that the dancing is fantastic, and the contribution of choreographer and lead dancer Antonio Gades cannot be overstated. Saura went on to direct several other dance films, from Carmen (1983) to Tango (1998), frequently in collaboration with Gades.