Friday, July 12, 2013

Carmen Jones (1954)

Today's film is Carmen Jones.  It's a musical based on the opera Carmen, and set in modern times.  It takes place at an army camp near the time of the Korean War, where the lovely Carmen works in a factory making parachutes and flirts with anything that moves.  She sets her sights on Joe, who is happily engaged to the nice girl Cindy Lou and decides she must have him.

The actors playing Carmen and Joe had there singing voices dubbed over by actual opera singers, since they didn't have the range to sing opera.  This musical has the mostly the same music as Carmen, but the lyrics have all been changed to English and to fit the more modern situation.  However, this makes a lot of the singing awkward.  It's like it's trying too hard to fit the lyrics to the music perfectly and it doesn't work all the time.  Of course I loved the music, but that's thanks to the real opera.

I enjoyed Dorothy Dandridge's performance as the perpetually selfish Carmen.  She doesn't care that Joe is engaged, and she doesn't care that he'll get in trouble for not turning her in like he's supposed to.  She does wait for him to get out of jail, but after he kills someone for her and goes into hiding in Chicago, she's done.  She doesn't want to be in hiding with him, she wants to go out and party.  She goes shopping with another man's money and plans on leaving Joe, because the thrill of stealing another woman's man is gone now.  She reaches her end when the furious Joe strangles her outside of a boxing ring.  The ending is really important for me to mention because in the original opera, Carmen is killed near a bullfighting ring, while this Carmen is killed near a boxing ring! Another clever way of modernizing the story.  Also, Cindy Lou may be a nice girl, but she travels to Chicago determined to get her man back. I was proud of her.  Overall I enjoyed this musical, but not much of the lyrics themselves.  I will give it a 5/10.

1 comment:

  1. I think you enjoyed this one more than I did then. I thought it was pretty awful throughout. Except for the music itself. Carmen, the opera, is an awesome piece.