“Argentina” throbs with life and feeling
Film Review by Larry Murray
Modern life in urban settings sometimes leads to moments in which you just need a film that is able to take you out of yourself. A reminder that arrives via a song or dance that connects you with your past. Argentina is the latest film from the legendary Spanish director of Carmen and Flamenco, Carlos Saura. And it does just that.
It brings us back to songs about tilling the soil, songs that describe it as “wounding” the earth, and yet is repaid by the fruits and vegetables the hard work of peasants yields. It explores the heart of traditional Argentine folklore via a series of choreographed tableaux retracing a history rich in original culture. The unique theatrical staging of dance mixed with awe-inspiring traditional song make it unique. Poetic, riveting and moving, this live performance choreographed by Saura calls on the entire history of a country set to the tune of guitars and accordions.
The words are simple, yet the non-verbal communication is very deep indeed. “When I die, my poor little one, who shall walk by your side?” The songs are simple, yet deep, about life and death, families and solitude. The glorious singing of Mercedes Sosa touches our souls even as drums and sticks punctuate deep feelings with a primal rhythm. In this way, the film is able to express pain and suffering while allowing us to escape from it.
Explains the filmmaker, Carlos Saura: “By beginning with the incredible heritage of Los Chalchaleros and the most beautiful traditional songs, in their original and/or current versions, I wish to explore the deep, telluric connection between song and soil, tradition and the future.”
The film is currently playing in LA, at the Laemmle Royal. It will be released by First Run Features via streaming and DVD in late October, 2016.
Saura introduces audiences to the way in which the citizens, geography and history of Argentina have shaped its culture. Using a theatrical approach based on light and shadow, and the simplicity of a minimalist setting, Saura showcases the sublime beauty of these traditions by returning to the soil from which they were born.
In addition to popular folk singers such as Mercedes Sosa, the film also features El Chaqueño Palavecino, Soledad Pastorutti (“La Sole”), Liliana Herrero, Luis Salinas, Jaime Torres, Jairo, and the folk group Metabombo. Dancers include Ballet Nuevo Arte Nativo de Koki and Pajarín Saavedra.
I always had the urge to shoot Argentinian music, especially for the wealth of its zambas and chacareras, what you call folklore.”
— Carlos Saura
Carlos Saura is one of the most prestigious directors of Spanish cinema. He has won several national and international awards and has been nominated three times for an Academy Award®. He has directed, among other films: Cría Cuervos (1976), Tango (1998), Ay Carmela (1990), Deprisa, Deprisa (1981).
ARGENTINA – A film by Carlos Saura, 2015, Argentina/France/Spain, Documentary, English, 85 minutes, Digital, First Run Features