Synopsis by Nathan Southern
If references to the fado -- an ancient Portuguese form of music -- fail to strike a chord with even the most cultured American viewers, this is only attributable to the genre's longtime obscurity. A Portuguese musical mode borne out of early 19th century Lisbon, and characterized by long, ornate, emotionally heavy ballads lamenting lost loves and shattered dreams, the fado began to experience a stunning and unpredicted resurgence in the early 21st century. Carlos Saura's 2007 documentary Fados captures the musical genre at this point, as it begins to reattain popularity. As the third and concluding installment in the director's "musical trilogy" that began with Flamenco (1995) and Tango (1998), the film first traces the history of the fado form, then moves into a veritable concert of fado all-stars (or fadistas) including Mariza, Camane, Caetano Veloso, and others -- staged and filmed on a succession of elaborate sets such as a recreation of a period Lisbon bar. Saura also works in tributes to such past fado performers as Amália Rodrigues and Chico Buarque.
fado, ballad, Portugal