Good movie, but a discredit to the DVD medium
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The movie itself is quite good, but what they don't tell you is that the original Spanish dialogue has been eliminated in favor of an unforgivable English dubbing. What's more is that there are no alternate soundtracks available on this DVD, and no subtitles to choose from. In other words, it's a low budget insult to the DVD medium where all these things are not just possible, but expected. I would love to see this movie in its original language before it was butchered, because there's some good film-making going on here."
A Spanish tragedy.
Epops | usa | 03/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film in Spanish-language VHS format with English subtitles. My experience with dubbed foreign films has been uniformly bad, and I avoid them like the plague. Dubbing ALWAYS makes a film worse, without exception, and no matter what the language.
I enjoy Saura's Flamenco films, and so was curious about what a Saura "action" film would look like. The fact that Antonio Banderas appears in it was a side issue for me. It was made before he made the Hollywood big-time, and was still trying to be a serious actor. He is actually quite good as the idealistic but jaded young newspaperman.
It is a curious film, not what I expected. Although it was made in 1997, and has televisions, computers, and cell phones in it, it reminded me of the bleak French and Italian films of the '40's and '50's, after WWII, before Europe became prosperous again. It has a distinctly unmodern, pessimistic atmosphere. The setting of the circus, and the character of a trick rider recall the 19th century. Anna, the rider/shooter, is clearly not at home in the contemporary world, seems to be caught in a time warp, and lives according to her own, pre-modern rules. The circus life has much in common with the gypsy life portrayed in Saura's flamenco films, and much of the flamenco "duende". (Note: The character Anna is the daughter of circus people, trapeze artists, from Bolzano, in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy, which accounts for her German surname. She is joking with Marcos when she says her mother was a Russian countess. Anna speaks Spanish with an Italian accent.)
The story is a revenge tragedy, a very old dramatic form, in a modern setting. But Saura, perhaps because he is Spanish, and has submerged himself in pre-modern gypsy culture, manages to avoid modern cliches while using this ancient form.
Her brief love affair with Marcos, the young reporter, is interrupted when she is raped by three young thugs, in one of the most brutally filmed scenes I have ever seen. Saura doesn't clean it up at all. You really want her to kill these vermin afterward.
A woman of Anna's accomplishments and character clearly isn't going to rest until her assailants have been punished. But this is a tragedy, not really an "action" film after all. Her killings of the rapist thugs are convincing in their ugliness, but her revenge is not sweet. It only makes her position more desperate, speeding her inexorable descent into hell. In the end, Saura makes us believe that Anna, guilty as she is, had her reasons, and that her death frees her of her sins.
The melancholy music adds to the bitter-sweet mood of the film.
The acting by Banderas and Neri is first rate. One believes that they are desperately in love, and that it would have ended badly regardless. In spite of the brutality, it is a romantic film, in the 19th century sense of the term.
It looks to me as though Neri did much of her own riding and shooting. The cinematography is quite good, Italianate, and Madrid has the look of a city lived in, not a movie set.
To make a DVD of a film like this in dubbed English only is complete philistinism, verging on the criminal.
Highly recommended in its original Spanish-language form. Even if you speak only a little Spanish, you will realize that the subtitles, even though they are pretty good, don't capture the profanity. There's no point watching it dubbed in English.
Banderas & Neri are the 2 STARS in this rating.
Epops | 08/12/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Francesca Neri and Antonio Banderas are a great match in a lousy movie. Neri (new to me) is beautiful and charismatic and did ever notice how the always dependable Banderas can make the worst movie tolerable? Here again he does some excellent emoting. Just like one of the other reviewers, the first 25 minutes are quite entertaining, but then it really becomes a violent, disgusting bore. While I was happy that Neri as Anna blew her three rapists to smithereens, her shooting of the two policemen was totally beyond redemption. That's when the film went to hell."
Film worth watching, for Carlos Saura's sake...
zara_azari | 06/09/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Technical screw-ups with DVD aside, this film is OK. It certainly bears lesser artistic value than other films from Carlso Saura. But, it is not worse than some of the rubbish that come outs. It is just, probably, one of those cases, when an artist needed money and so on...The story is somewhat weak and superficial. I was drawn into it for the first 20-25 minutes. I expected something really interesting to happen. It did not...It is a story of a young journalist, Banderas, who needs to cover a story [for reasons, I honestly can not remember] about the circus, which came to town.Naturally, he falls in love with the beautiful horse-riding circus girl.From that point on, it gest worse... It turns out that the girl is half-Russian, half-Italian, half-God-knows what else. She is very bright and intelligent, inspite of her being a circus artist [feel the social message here]: she seems to be speaking all the languages she knows at once. They end up having a little bit of sex [at least on screen], then, she is raped, and then, what?... oh, yeah, she gets revenge and he gets... nothing. And you are left in an OUTRAGE: Could the plot be any more lame than this? Hardly..."