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I don't understand Francesco Rosi's decision to stage a “realistic” version (1984) of Bizet's opera, or why he cast singers rather than actors if the voices were to be dubbed anyway. The naturalistic approach only makes the theatrical exaggerations of the plotline seem more preposterous, while the performers—a doughy Placido Domingo as Don Jose, a rather too sluttish Julia Migenes-Johnson as Carmen—don't provide the psychological depth necessary to sustain Rosi's strategy. The few stylized, extravagant moments are what work best, such as the crash of Dolby stereo that climaxes the opening bullfight, or the ravishing, deep-focus landscapes that provide the background to the first act (recalling the echoing open spaces of Rosi's 1962 classic, Salvatore Giuliano). But then, filmmaking counts for very little in this kind of culture-mongering project. With Ruggero Raimondi and Faith Esham; Lorin Maazel conducts the Orchestre National de France.
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