Saturday, September 23, 2023

“Carmen”, a peculiar adaptation of the myth on the border of America and Mexico

What if “Carmen”, the epitome of a woman of character, was exposed to all danger at the border between Mexico and the United States? French-American choreographer Benjamin Millepied tried piracy with his first feature film.

Inspired by the myth created by Prosper Mérimée, “Carmen” (premiering July 14 in France) follows a young dancer (Melissa Barrera) who must cross a border after her mother is murdered.

At the mercy of the violence of smugglers and border guards, she finds help in Aidan (Paul Mescal), a young Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After a dramatic confrontation, the two must flee and take refuge in a cabaret run by another stunning woman (Spanish actress Rossi De Palma).

This is where the similarity with “Carmen” ends, the most performed French-language opera in the world.

Millepied (45 years old) rose to fame in 2010 for choreographing “The Black Swan”, a thriller in which he met his future wife, Hollywood star Natalie Portman.

His “Carmen” is also envisioned as a hybrid film, with dance sequences that stage the intersection of Californian cultures.

“I staged the film there because it was where I lived: Los Angeles, Mexico…”, he explained in an interview with AFP.

During his years in Los Angeles, Millepied encountered Latino immigration before returning to Paris.

“It’s something that’s part of daily life,” he says.

And Millepied also uses another little-known detail: “There’s an important Roma community that immigrated to Mexico in the early 20th century and has an interesting history because it’s been very nomadic, traveling by truck, putting on shows Keep doing it,” he points out.

This explains the foot-stomping and gypsy air that is breathed in some scenes of “Carmen”.

“The first versions of the script were very close to the libretto (of the opera), but little by little I was pruning until it was the essence of what I wanted to convey,” he explains.

Along with songs and dances, great works of universal literature have been recurring in the history of cinema, and examples include “West Side Story” in “Carmen”, based on Leonard Bernstein’s musical “Romeo and Juliet”.

The opera “Carmen” was one of those artistic creations that coincided with Millepied’s training as a dancer, becoming the main star of the New York City Ballet Company.

“It doesn’t matter when the protagonists of “Carmen” start dancing or singing,” Millepied reasons.

There’s something “mystical, poetic” about mixing choreography with a typical film story, he explains.

He added that with the dance “many things are explained, things that allow the audience to understand the story” without words.

The film addresses the suffering of migrants, but also of American soldiers who left for long periods to fight in desert areas such as Afghanistan or Iraq.

They are creatures “abandoned, totally distraught, traumatized” and have a difficult relationship with sound, he explains.

“I’ve tried to create an organic link, an intensity, through image and sound throughout the film,” he concluded.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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