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Editor's Note: We
are pleased to be able to share this masterful multi-disciplinary outline used
by Dr. Bensusan as course content for his online classes. Guy, with effortless
grace, wove together art, music, history, and culture, covering a sequence of a
hundred years. The rich panorama of societal change provided depth and substance
for his comprehensive Humanities Studies. The material presents a wonderful
model for online (and on campus) teaching.
CARMEN AND HER UPDATES:
The basic story of Carmen and José is that in Spain's
northern mountains near the French border, a young and unworldly man from a good
family of minor nobility lived with his mother. This Don José, while studying
for the priesthood, got into a fight over a game and killed his opponent. He
fled, enlisted in the army and then began a promising career in Seville, a major
garrison far to the south. He met the gypsy temptress Carmen, who flirted and
fascinated until he lost all sense of his family and professional
responsibilities. Breaking army rules, getting ever deeper into trouble, he
killed an officer and fled to the mountains with Carmen, joining her bandit
friends in thievery and smuggling.
He then killed Black García, Carmen's original husband,
and took charge of the smuggler band so effectively that government officials
posted a big reward for his capture. But Carmen he could not take over:
she simply refused to be ruled. They argued, fought, and when he beat her in
exasperation, she ran off to her bullfighter friend, Lucas. Risking certain
capture, José followed. When neither threats nor pleadings worked, he killed
her with García's knife, and then surrendered to be executed for his many
This elemental nucleus has evoked endless variations. They
are found in literature, verse, opera, instrumental music, vocal music, theater,
dance, motion pictures, staged musicals, filmed opera and ballet, and community
plays. Carmen and José have appeared in movie cartoons, comic strips, and
slapstick vignettes by Jack Benny, Fred Allen, The Honeymooners and Lucille
Ball, as well as longer parodies by Spike Jones, Stan Freeberg, Monty Python and
Benny Hill. They and the well-known operatic music have been the frameworks for
countless television advertisements for automobiles, breakfast cereals,
appliances and other consumer products.
There are social-comment Carmens, political Carmens,
cultural-diversity Carmens, pornographic Carmens, voluptuous vampy Carmens,
disturbed Carmens, spacey Carments, old-fashioned Carmens, modern Carmens,
multi-level Carmens, surreal Carmens, deconstructed Carmens, and expurgated
Carmens for children of varying shades of innocence. Regardless of their nature,
however, they all share two basic features: José always kills Carmen in the
final act, and the authors telling the story are always male. It is past time
for a change!
One Carmen is an all-Black almost-minstrel show. Another
uses a Flamenco dance frame and setting. A recent spectacular motion picture is
an outdoor extravaganza, magnificent with soft Andalusian and Goya colors,
filmed on location in one of Spain's historic southwestern countryside and town,
replete with its small bullring. In contrast, a tense, somber theater production
uses a minimal cast, minimal orchestra, and a closed-in stage set focusing on
the dehumanization that resuslts from grinding poverty. Another exploits a
manipulative female in a New Wave display of clever filming techniques, camera
angles, mind-jolting edits, and similar visual devices, commenting brazenly on
nature, culture and art.
There are Classy Cabaret Carmens and International Ballroom
Dance Carmens, exaggerating the male-female roles. The l988 Olympics publicized
skaters Debbie Thomas and Katerina Witt as "the Dueling Carmens,"
while the sequel with Gold Medalists Katerina Witt and Bryan Boitano was called
"Carmen on Ice," filmed in Seville anticipating the 1992
Quincentennial. With today's fascination for ice skating, the Carmen singles and
the Carmen-José doubles portrayals are presented to a wide array of Tango, Paso
Doble, Rock and Country-Western music.
These Carmens exist over and above the continuous operatic
stagings: Carmen is clearly the most popular opera ever written, judged by
frequency of presentation, multi-national acclaim and constantly favorable
reviews and commentary. The story of Carmen, the tragedy of José, or maybe the
joint tragic situation, carries a potent message for audiences of varied
generations everywhere. Despite her violent, inevitable death in the final
moments, and regardless of the worldwide growing objection to this abuse of
woman, Carmen lives. She remains alive and well in today's art
forms; and where Carmen captivates, will a José not be near?
Prosper Merimee's Carmen.
While one might make a case that Eve, Lilith or Delilah
were "earlier Carmens," the original Carmen story appeared in
1845 by the French author, Prosper Merimee, who claimed to have earlier heard a
Spanish legend from a noblewoman he knew in Madrid. Writing a short novel,
Merimee introduces us to the interesting, cavalier activities of a learned,
likeable French scholar traveling in Spain. He narrates amusing anecdotes and
describes his meetings with bandit José, who in turn recounts his troubles with
gypsy Carmen and her many lovers, including Lucas, a minor hero of the
Andalusian bullring. The scholar also dallied dangerously with Carmen, who
steals his heirloom watch and otherwise treats him shabbily.
However, our knowledge of and information about Carmen is
all second hand: all from the mouths of men, or, in the case of Carmen's
spoken words recorded on paper, from the pen of the male author, Prosper Merimee.
We are caught in the same difficulty that we have in knowing Eve -- since the
witnesses are not female, neither is the point of view. Might not a courtroom
judge today disallow all of such testimony as hearsay.
Merimee's story is solid Nineteenth Century Tragic
Romanticism. For setting he uses the rustic color of rural Andalusia -- a land
familiar to Frenchmen whose forefathers fought pagan Moslems and the powerful
armies of Spain's wealthy Hapsburg Kings. Later, French soldiers supported a
member of their Bourbon family when he became King Philip V of Spain. At the
turn of the nineteenth century, France's population heard countless war stories
told by veterans of Napoleon's Peninsular War (1808-1813). Those military men
spoke of seductive Gypsy women, perhaps fondly and longingly? Is Carmen perhaps
a French man's locker-room story? Or was Carmen packaged and marketed as an
Exotic, Foreign, Seductive, Culturally-Diverse Charmer, the type so admired by
the Nineteenth Century Romantics?
Merimee's scholar is an interesting protagonist: urbane,
courageous, a gentleman of reason, observing details objectively, displaying
good manners, and projecting intelligent, logical, sensible foresight, sympathy
and wisdom. How ennobling may it have been for French men to perceive themselves
portrayed in this fashion? Merimee ridicules the incompetence shown by
government and military officials, along with their greed. He is also fascinated
by gypsy culture, telling us of their colorful proverbs, hostility to central
authority, zeal for freedom and the open road. One might naturally expect the
use of such images in a national society beginning to notice that it lived in
the soot, urban crush and pollution of the early industrial revolution.
Petipa Ballet. Merimee's
novel met with instant acclaim -- so much so that the noted choreographer Marius
Petipa immediately created a concert ballet out of the story. It was called Carmen
et son torero (Carmen and her bullfighter) and was presented in Madrid that
same year, 1845. It was a success overnight, and its showy costumes, settings
and choreography is rather well-described in most major reference works on the
history of ballet. However, there is irony in Petipa's success -- in Bourbon and
urban Spain it was in vogue to accept French cultural enactments as the artistic
model, in spite of the fact that Merimee's verbal portrait of Spain was less
Georges Bizet's Carmen.
Thirty years later, Carmen was recreated by Georges Bizet
into an operatic form which was performed in Paris in 1875. The story-line and
dialogue departed from Merimee's story in several ways, being written under the
vastly different social-political conditions of the Franco-Prussian war and for
the more overtly monetary purposes of the libretto writers, Meilhac and Halevy.
Bizet composed melodies which are among the best known songs in operatic
literature, making Carmen the most popular of operas. It is common for
people not to know Merimee and to assume Bizet's Carmen is the original
The opera altered the story theme by adding two significant
characters, both serving as dynamic contrasts to Carmen and José. Opposing the
"unholy" Mary of Carmen is pure, virginal, motherly Mary, Micaela --
added to satisfy the operatic need for a soprano as well as to portray idealized
moral qualities of womanhood. Micaela intensifies awareness of José's pathetic
choices, magnifying the dramatic struggle. Bullfighter Escamillo provides the
gallant, wealthy, adored hero: an ideal figure making young girl's hearts
palpitate. Poor mediocre José never has a chance: he lacks the wealth, the
aura, the brass, the style -- one eventually wonders what Carmen could possibly
have seen to admire in José! But that is the way the author wrote it, revealing
The initial performance of the Opera in 1875 was not a
smashing triumph, and Bizet died disappointed some three months later. Still,
Carmen soon became a regular offering at the opera house. Thirty-seven
performances were given in Paris that first season, with many famous singers
such as Celestine Galli-Marie and Minnie Hauk later achieving great acclaim
during the remainder of the century. The opera was introduced into England in
1878 and into the USA later that year, and Carmen was highly popular long
before World War One.
Early Motion Pictures.
When silent motion pictures appeared, Carmen not only began
to reach a far wider public than those who went to the opera house, but also
became a much more intimate and meaningful character, since camera techniques
brought the drama and actor's expressions so much closer to the spectator. The
first Carmen film appears to have been made in France in 1909. A Spanish version
appeared in 1910, with another was produced in 1914. Hollywood created two
entries in 1913, the first with Marguerite Snow and the other with Marion
In 1915 came Cecil B. Demille's Paramount production
starring opera singer and actress, Geraldine Farrar. Fox Studios countered
simultaneously with Raoul Walsh directing "the Vampire Woman," Theda
Bara -- ironically, the version by the singer was adapted from the original
novel, while Vampy Theda slinked about the operatic staging on silent film! One
may read about audience response to these two films in the New York Times
film review, dated November l, 1915 (See the essay called, Reviewing the
Reviews). The critic was certainly not impressed with movies as a vehicle for
serious art! Nor did he appreciate the local theater musicians' un-operatic
effort to provide some sound.
Despite critics, audiences adored the new Carmens. Small wonder that Charlie
Chaplin filmed his four-reeler burlesque of the Farrar and Bara films in 1916
with Edna Purviance as the lead and himself as José. It is melodramatic fun to
watch as Don José (called Darn Hosiery), sent to capture the smugglers, turns
out to be un-bribeable and is given Carmen as a booby prize. He fumblingly falls
for her, but she scorns him and heads for town. Hosiery follows and watches her
take up with an enormous, gluttonous Escamillo. Ranting and raging, Hosiery gets
Carmen alone, stabs her and then, himself. At that moment Escamillo walks in,
but seeing the corpses, wanders off in search of other fun. We feel some sorrow,
but they both bounce back to life -- Hosiery shows us the rubber dagger, and
tragedy ends as farce.
After Chaplin, Carmens proliferate. In 1918, the German
director, Ernst Lubitsch, cast Pola Negri, the African American actress who had
climbed to stardom in Europe after leaving the United States. Pola's sensuous
dancing achieved enormous continental success in Western Europe before the film
toured the USA in 1921 under the title, Gypsy Love. French, Spanish, and
English directors provided more Carmens in the 1920's, and in Hollywood, Raoul
Walsh turned from his earlier opera to an original version of the Merimee novel:
The Loves of Carmen (1927), starring Dolores del Rio as a zealous,
creatively resourceful and very daringly-devilish Carmen for that date.
"Talkies." "Talkies" (meaning added sound track),
developed at the end of the 1920's. The first sound version of Bizet's Carmen
was filmed in England in 1932, though it was in black and white and the
reproduction of the operatic voices was not realistic by modern standards. In
Germany during 1933, Lotte Reiniger directed a short film combining the opera
music with visual silhouettes. As pantomime, it received favorable response.
Other Carmens were produced in France and Spain, but I haven't seen them.
Florian Rey's Andalusian
Nights. In 1938 Florian Rey presented the lovely actress, Imperio
Argentina, in his Buenos Aires production of Noche Andaluz (Andalusian
Nights). The tone and theme clearly echoed the traditional if paradoxical
lament of the extremely popular Argentine tango. One can easily imagine José,
like Carlos Gardel, leaning against a lamp-post on the corner, with a long
cigarette hanging from his lips, and singing such lyrics as:
"Oh, women are beasts: evil, lusting, deceitful,
hateful, grasping, treasonable; impatiently waiting to bankrupt and destroy some
innocent fellow. A man should place trust only in his mother."
This was certainly not the way in which women were normally
portrayed in motion pictures made in the United States at that time, even if we
consider Scarlet O'Hara and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Interestingly, on the eve of the invasion of Poland, this
Argentine film was modified in Germany into Andalusiche Nachte, and later
readapted by Italian and French directors in 1942 and 1943 -- at the height of
German and Italian military defeats in North Africa, Sicily and Stalingrad. Here
the directors maintain the formula of flawed, tragic hero: falling because he
lacks weapons for defending his feelings against "innate animalistic wiles
of a street-smart, sexy seductress." Shades of Evil Eve?
Neither mother, nor "pure maiden," nor his own
love of honor can prevent complete disaster: in more recent words, José cannot
fight Mother Nature, either with ideals or theories. Rey's Argentine thesis is
perhaps a political allegory, personifying the hopelessness of Germany, Italy
and Japan in trying to fulfill their long-range, politico-military global
conquest goals against more numerous, more versatile opponents who had access to
a wider and more reliable pool of resources during World War Two.
In contrast, Carmen became a Broadway musical with societal
and old-timey vaudeville minstrel flavor. In 1943 the war was going well for the
allies, even though it was not yet won. Billy Rose, collaborating with Oscar
Hammerstein II, reframed the opera into a rural Southern Negro adventure. Carmen
Jones was a busty, hip-swinging good-time gal with a job in a parachute factory,
even if she didn't seem patriotically dedicated to the war effort. Air Force
Corporal Joe had demonstrated potential and was given a chance to be officer and
fighter pilot, which would move him socially into a fraternity restricted to
His sweet-Micaela girl-friend is called Cindy Lou: she is
cute, petite, rural and uneducated. The bullfighter rival was now Husky Miller,
a heavyweight boxing champion, though he could easily have been a jazz musician.
There is plenty of patriotic, "win the war, fight like hell, don't quit
until you hear the bell" rhetoric in the lyrics. The music was Bizet's,
with jive-talk mannerisms creating an inaccurate, unconvincing and unflattering
Despite an excellent performance by the "All Black
Cast" (a "famous first" at the time), the underlying message to
the white Broadway audience turned Carmen Jones into a cultural
distortion: this was a white middle-class idealized image of what Blacks might
turn out to be "if they would only try to better themselves." Given
the changes which have occurred in American society since World War II, it is
much easier to discuss such racial or racist matters in 1994 than it was in 1943
-- and not only because of "political correctness."
As a musical theater hit, it was first recorded on 78's by
Decca, issued in 1952 as an LP (MCA-2054). It was another "famous
first" when Otto Preminger turned it into a successful motion picture with
Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Olga James, Joe Adams, Brock Peters, Pearl
Bailey and Diahann Carroll. It won several awards for best musical, despite
dubbed operatic voices. It was film of the year, and Dorothy Dandridge barely
lost the Best Actress Oscar to Grace Kelly.
This Carmen is unlike others. She flirts with the sergeant
and later with Husky, but she really seems to care for Joe -- cleaning
mud from his uniform, brushing his shoes, straightening his belt and shirt,
preparing a home-cooked meal, and refraining from going out with other fellows
while he's in the guardhouse! More than sinister, she seems reckless and
immature during the seduction scene at her home. Nor is she Gypsy: just a sexy
Southern Black girl with urban manners, enjoying "good-timing" in the
big city, in this case Chicago. She doesn't seem to believe in the fate symbols
which her aunt tells her not to defy. No cultural differences exist between
Carmen and Joe here.
Intra-Black hostilities are implied through casting --
light-colored, socially-mobile Joe is harassed by his sergeant, who is far
darker. Had they been the same degree of "dark," the unclear motives
might have more easily been seen as a matter of personalities and career
opportunities. Instead, they seem to be related to matters of color, since the
sergeant might have envied Joe being awarded a chance to go to flying school,
while he, the veteran was not. The visual truth of a Black officer exists in the
film: a timely casting choice, since the motion picture came out at the
beginning of the Civil Rights movement. During the Korean War, Black military
officers served -- there is more realism in the 1954 movie than the 1943
Broadway version since Black officers were not in World War II.
Social mobility through sports is highlighted visually and
through dialogue -- one thinks of Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. The focus is on
violence, with long scenes devoted to Black boxers pounding each other in the
ring while the audience screams for blood, something not emphasized in the
Broadway show. Moreover, Joe doesn't stab Carmen, he chokes her -- and in his
final lament asks to be hanged high on a tree! One might suggest that hanging
and garrotting (which Don José was entitled to as nobleman) are parallel, but
for the general Anglo-American audience, probably unfamiliar with Merimee's
novel, the allusion probably is more akin to "lynchings." Carmen
Jones is a collector's item -- hard to find and rumored to be withdrawn from
circulation at the request of the NAACP. Rumor says the remake is in
The Loves of Carmen.
The first post-war "Carmen" was in 1946 with
Vivian Romance's lusty characterization of a carefree, unprincipled seductress,
in a non-singing role which had been dramatically adapted from the novel and
filmed in Rome by Director Christian Jaque in 1946. The costumes and acting in
this one were highly dramatic, "molto Italiano."
A similar portrayal was given two years later by flashy
glamour queen, Rita Hayworth. The well-known Loves of Carmen was adapted
from Merimee by Helen Deutsch, filmed in Technicolor, directed by Charles Vidor
for Columbia Pictures, and featured a young Glenn Ford as the innocent youth
about to be transformed into a killer. His metamorphosis is foreshadowed early
in the introduction with the Genesis allusion to forbidden fruit -- not apples
but oranges, stolen by the "evil woman," then presented by her to the
naive man who foolishly accepted them.
When the owner cries "thief," Carmen and José
run away. The treatment is melodramatic, with flavors and trappings of a
Western, so popular at that time: cavalry chase, stagecoach holdup, and multiple
wanted-posters shown sequentially with ever-increasing reward amounts. We get
homespun philosophy about good and evil, making proper choices, getting caught
in vicious cycles, starting over in a new land, and having a sense of honor,
right and wrong.
It fulfills public morality in the 1948 post-war era:
outlaw José stabs the anti-societal Gypsy Carmen and is then shot by a soldier,
a symbol of orderly society. Carmen is not the ideal needed in 1948, one who
will be satisfied as a consumer-oriented housewife in expanding suburbia -- one
instead wonders if she might have been a good wartime Rosita-the-Riveter.
As in Carmen Jones, red-haired Rita is not "true
Gypsy:" maybe the US can't comprehend Gypsies since they do not exist here
as they do in Spain and other parts of Europe. Rita talks about being one, but
acts more like a pouty, moody, fun-loving, big-city woman in the United States.
The apparel is also unrealistic -- Rita's sumptuous, colorful and frequent
costume changes are highly Hollywood and out of place. Popular then, it evokes
laughter now. Rita sings and dances -- but music and movements are Mexican; what
did the movie public know of Spain in 1948? The Loves of Carmen contains
excellent camera work, for which cinematographer William Snyder received an
Oscar nomination. It is a wonderful film to use for teaching about film making.
Other Carmen Ballets: Ruth Page and Roland Petit.
Back at the concert hall, Carmen had again donned ballet
slippers. At least two dance versions appeared during the l930's, including a
modern one by the renowned Metropolitan Opera ballerina, Ruth Page. This was her
first effort at a ballet from an opera, and others followed. Supported by the
Works Progress Administration (WPA), her work was performed under the title of Guns
and Castanets in Chicago in 1937.
A decade later dancer-choreographer Roland Petit,
abandoning his classical training, began to develop post-war sensual patterns
and movements with the Paris Opera Ballet. After founding his own Ballets de
Paris in 1948, Petit created a gutsy Carmen around Merimee's story with Bizet's
music, starring his wife, Zizi. In five unconventional scenes, it began with the
tobacco factory fight. Soldier José separates the two women, asking Carmen for
a date. They meet in the tavern, where Carmen is fighting off a would-be suitor.
Getting impassioned, José carries her off to bed. The two wake up and plan a
robbery, where José kills one of the victims, and the robbers drag him off to
avoid being captured. Carmen then flirts with a bullfighter, enraging the
possessive José, who ends her life. The show opened in London in 1949, ran four
months and then five more in Paris and the US. Critics wrote, "satanic
woman had again led innocent man to destruction!"
Interestingly, while audiences loved it, some critics
complained that Bizet's perfect plot had been distorted. However, since Petit
had worked with Merimee's story, critical reaction illustrates how deeply Bizet
had created the standard that other productions were measured by. Various later
versions of Petit's ballet used music from Sarasate's Carmen Suite. In
1980, a 44-minute video was released by KULTUR in France, and starred Mikhail
Baryshnikov dancing the leading role along with Zizi Jeanmaire and the National
Ballet of Marseilles.
The Alonso Ballet. The next major Carmen ballet
creation was developed by Cuba's Alonso family. Choreographer, Alberto, had a
younger brother, dancer Fernando, who married Alicia. All had been born about
the time of World War I, had become well known in the ballet world by the
thirties, with Alicia creating a successful "Giselle" in the United
States. Deeply involved with both Cuba and the United States, and later
developing the Ballet Nacional of Cuba after Castro's rise, both worked at
developing a non-traditional Carmen who emphasized the pureness of spirit
described by the Spaniard, García Lorca.
In 1966, Alberto created the Carmen Suite for Maya
Plesitskaya at Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet. Alleged eroticism brought government
complaints, but the debut was on April 20, 1967, contrasting an honest, sincere
and free-spirited Carmen with an untrustworthy, ever-compromising, moody José
-- a role reversal. Bizet music was adapted and modified for the Russian
performances as well as the 1970's abbreviated version danced by Alicia Alonso
in Cuba at age fifty. Alicia, as seen on a video released in 1986, gives a
personal, feminine interpretation, dancing like a real woman, whereas Maya is
more traditional and classic.
Italian Carmens. By the 1960's additional directions
were visible. Up-to-date, sexy, pouty Carmens had appeared in the works of
Italian directors Mario Scotese (Carmen Proibita) and Carmine Gallone (Carmen
'63 or Carmen di Trastevere) -- though neither seems to have lasted
long at the box office.
Carmen of Ronda.
In contrast, a popular movie filmed on location in the spectacular cliff-edged
town of Ronda in Southwestern Spain, gave a far different and highly Spanish
story of the Gypsy girl. The context is Napoleon's occupation of Spain in 1807,
with Spanish citizens rebelling against that invasion. José is a French
soldier, while Carmen is a patriotic Spanish woman. Unlike Bizet, the
lusty-busty-crusty schemer is Micaela, while Escamillo is a bullring star who
has been given great freedom of movement by the French commander and can thus
serve as courier for the rebels. José falls for Carmen, betrays his flag, and
both get killed by French troops in the uprising. It is intriguing and evokes
many questions about the original story Merimee might have been told in Spain.
Tunes." More important for US audiences were cartoons in the
Porky Pig format with traditional comic pursuit involving Bugs Bunny as a
toothy, flop-eared Carmen, replete with mantilla, fan, painted beauty mark and
ridiculously long false eyelashes -- while the bull chased Elmer Fudd. Two of
the offerings had punning titles, such as Carmen Get It (1963) and Carmen's
Veranda (1964), a frolic on Brazil's singer-dancer, Carmen Miranda.
Opera as Technicolor Film. The first major color film came in 1967,
with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Salzburg Festival production starring
Grace Bumbry. This made the actual opera into a motion picture, altering its
essence with camera work and making it more widely available. It added the
exciting dimension of zoom lens, allowing the audience to see expressions on the
faces of the singers more clearly. This step was an important technological
event in that it began to blur the border between opera and film. Henceforth,
the element of "the close-up" would be in the operatic vocabulary.
Carmen in the
Buff. A more revealing approach came out in the same year as, Carmen,
Baby. Radley Metzger, an American producer known for erotica, filmed a
bisexually-explicit set of repetitions-variations at a small village on
Yugoslavia's Adriatic coast. Carmen, played by young Uta Levka (resembling Rita
Hayworth), is involved with crime, including the blackmail of tourists
photographed in bed with whores. José is a jealous cop, willing to shoot
Carmen's playmates, while Escamillo is a rock singer called "Baby
Lucas," alluding to Merimee's bullfighter. There is no Bizet orchestration,
only rock and roll. As Vincent Canby said in his New York Times review on
October 7, l967, the Rialto Theater spectators were more interested in looking
than listening. Despite substituting flesh for drama, the classy photography and
setting are perhaps ironic commentary on sex-obsession!
The Big Six.
From 1983 and 1985 six new Carmens appeared from six
different nations: France and the US in 1983, Italy and Spain in 1984, and
Russia and England in 1985. All came out on video, marketed internationally by
networks of book, tape and video sellers, made available to video rental shops,
and televised over satellite and cable. The approaches, characterizations,
character-conflict developments, socio-cultural settings, meanings and
humanistic implications, to say nothing of the artistic and aesthetic values,
are highly "Post-Modern."
One was First Name, Carmen, directed by Frenchman Jean-Luc Godard, who
first achieved renown as a revolutionary New Wave filmmaker in the 1950's, and
continues his off-beat presentations in this later eighty-five minute work. He
may even be poking fun of his own earlier movie-making here, since, under his
own name, he assumes the role of Carmen's uncle. The character is that of an
aging, unhappy former movie director who considers himself to be all washed up
in the profession -- we get visual references through endless waves being
"washed up" and "dissipating" on the shore.
Carmen convinces Uncle to join her in a new moviemaking
venture, and he owns a beach house where much of the story's plotting and naked
interplay will occur. Carmen poses as a filmmaker to disguise her criminal
activities. She runs with several men who utter revolutionary cliches but act
like greedy gangsters. José is a policeman named "Joséf." He appears
early in the film with some gendarmes who ineptly interrupt Carmen's robbery.
Joséf protects Carmen for no visible reason, driving off with her to Uncle's
beach house. The two spend much sex time -- flesh scenes ping-ponged with the
sight of endless ocean waves lapping at the beach -- truly a New Wave film!
Joséf shows he does not belong -- certainly not with
police life. He has no ambition, drive or competence; his criminal comrades
barely abide him and keep pushing him away despite Carmen's many efforts to
bring him into the gang. And after her lust wears off, Carmen doesn't want him
either. He persistently, petulantly pursues, pathetically obsessed with
intercourse. Full of plot twists and often alluding to natural tides and flows,
this neo-naturalistic display of the overwhelming urges of nature may be the
The story line is unclear: it hops, moods change, there are
unusual camera juxtapositions, startling edits, and many surprises. Is this an
attempt to show life's incongruities? We hear Beethoven quartets, revolutionary
and disquieting in contrast to the flowing beauty of Bizet's melodies. But this
may be part of the deliberate statement on disharmony today. Allusions are made
to Merimee and Bizet in music and word, but they are tangential to Godard's
story. The movie is a reel maverick -- regarded as high art by some and a waste
of film by others.
The French-North American production, by director Peter Brook, La Tragedie de
Carmen, opened in Paris in 1981 and New York in l983. Controversial for
different reasons, it is a skeletal version of the opera, with a cast of seven
-- José, Micaela, Carmen and Escamillo have singing roles, while Pastia, Zuñiga
and García only dialogue. The music is Bizet's, but the orchestra has been
pared to fifteen instruments. The total film length is only eighty-two minutes,
or one-third of the time it takes to present the opera. Here is one objection:
critics complain, "This is not Carmen; where is the beauty, the joy, the
fun, the big crowd scenes, the full sound of the music? The characters are too
complex and dismal, things are out of order, many adaptation liberties have been
taken; artistic license without responsibility or sense of aesthetic
Brook may want the audience to concentrate on social or
societal problems rather than personal, moral ones. As the title suggests, this
is the tragedy of Carmen, not of José: indeed, it might be viewed as a
tragedy for society as a whole. Carmen is not cast as a fun-loving gypsy, she is
a prostitute who tries to make the best of her unfulfilled life by finding an
escape from her situation: first with her original bondage with García, then
through a gypsy marriage to José and finally by a relationship with Escamillo,
who does not survive the bullfight.
Nor is Micaela lily white -- she is tough, slapping,
kicking and brawling in the dirt when she must. José is NOT a promising young
officer -- he is grubby, an ungenial soldier assigned to a remote, dead-end
post: he angers fast, kills easily, and focuses on his own wants. Escamillo is
no golden boy, either -- he is human, with lusts, postures and fears. It is only
Pastia the Pimp, the criminal, manipulator, climber and people-user, who
survives and keeps on climbing, leaving the audience wondering about Brook's
This is not a gay and pretty Carmen, it is a Carmen without
Romanticism; it focuses on the real struggles of an uneducated woman who may
only exist as the chattel of some man. Is that a relevant thesis for us to
reflect on? Or perhaps it is a ghetto view, where human competition, economic
pressures, hopelessness, complexity of vested interests and the weight of the
traditional power structure all combine to keep people down in the dirt:
homeless, unemployed, uneducated, victimized? The vision is timely, worth
The film works well as art: it is thematically consistent.
It starts in the dirt and ends there. It is filled with images and acts which
mold our understanding during the singing of the arias, which have been put in a
different sequence. Photography is excellent -- we are constantly aware of
artistic repetitions and parallels. Blocking and framing are extremely tight,
such as the tavern encounter between José and Escamillo and especially the
disengagement of Carmen and José in the mirror during the last act. The
characters are multi-dimensional and unusual; similar enough to traditional ones
to be convincing, and unique enough to keep us aware that we are being led to
consider new perspectives.
This Carmen was filmed with at least two different casts at
Lincoln Center; they are often shown on the A & E television channel. While
both are the same play, it is enlightening, even astonishing, to watch the
subtle changes of implied meaning resulting from (1) varying the camera
positions, (2) changing the amount of time and emphasis on specific pieces of
business and prop usage, and (3) the altered personal responses one feels in
looking at different faces and bodies.
Eva Sauvrova is an older Carmen, slowly losing hope for the
future, having faith things will still work out for her. Helene Delavault is
younger, more playful -- even ingenuous, she does what she must, but at
Escamillo's death, gives up and goes to her execution almost as a suicide.
Laurance Dale is a young, smiling, clean-shaven Don José who slowly learns the
hard facts of life, but is not driven by the innate fury of Merimee's bandit
character. Howard Hensel, on the other hand, seems sad and resigned to whatever
fate is coming -- he never appears to have expected success at anything, he just
goes on. It would be most interesting to be able to view these different casts
in simultaneous or rapid sequential order. In 1994, however, both versions seem
to be out-of-print.
Yet another film is by the Italian director, Francesco Rosi, with the title, Bizet's
Carmen. Filmed near Seville at splendid locations in the mountains as well
as in the old town and bullring of Carmona (or Carmen's town), this outdoor epic
stars Julia Migenes-Johnson and Plácido Domingo. This film-opera is two and a
half hours long, thirty minutes less than the normal indoor performance. Not
that much dialogue is cut -- rather, Rosi uses the overture and inter-act music
to provide dramatic visual settings, or better said, setups, which
anticipate clearly the conflict-conditions of the forthcoming scenes, the
immediate characterizations, and a strong imagery consistent with the mood of
More than that, Rosi frames, positions and steers our
thinking with those same filmic introductions. For instance, the first thing we
are shown, even before music begins, is the right leg of a matador, followed by
a contrasting shot of the red cape and sword, which become enveloped with a full
shot of a bleeding bull. The beginning bullfight intensifies the final, Act Four
bullfight -- or rather two fights, since José, dressed in black, confronts
Carmen, dressed in red. The finale gives us two parallel killings in two
different rings at the same time by cutting back and forth between them. Rosi
cleverly uses our expectations, coupled with fine blocking, camera work and the
sound track juxtapositions to maintain intensity, excitement and anticipation.
Rosi frequently presents overt visual juxtapositions which
are not in the original opera. In the introduction, he shows bull-killing and
the exaltation of the bullfighter, then moving directly to a Holy Week
procession in old Seville which adulates the statue of a weeping Virgin -- two
activities which in real life are in reverse order, but also artistically remind
us here of the literal grief over death, as well as the images and symbols of
the dual aspect of sacrifice and sorrow.
In Act two, we are first shown the sumptuous home of
Escamillo in whose patio a high-class, lavishly costumed dance is presented as a
performance for the bullfighter and his guests. Then we cut to the contrast of
the gypsy camp, where uninhibited and earthy dance movements are dynamically
different, further molding our split-level thinking about class differential and
possible implications for Carmen in becoming attached to either of the two
One may object that Plácido Domingo is a bit old to be a
dashing José and also perhaps a bit too tubby to inflame Carmen's passions.
After all, this is film, not opera, so appearances count as well as
voices. One may find Faith Esham's Micaela too sweet, too simple, and too pure
to be believable. Julia's Carmen may be too happy and lacking in what is
traditionally a somber moodiness of her fatalistic beliefs. And Ruggiero
Raimondi may be too short to strut well even if he sits tall on his white horse,
especially as filmed from below.
One may also protest the matter-of-fact way Rosi makes us
conscious of the violence, manipulation and intimidation existing in male-female
relationships. Still, the singing, acting, camera work, the visual allusion to
the days of the happy Garden before "sex became a sin" are delightful.
The ardent, fully-clothed seduction scene in Act Two is most memorable --
audiences simply squirm while viewing it; though numbed from nudity in
televition and movies, the fully-clothed seduction appears far more
The Spanish entry is called Carmen, by Carlos Saura.
A fascinating integration of several arts, ideas, and values, it is "a
story about a story within a story," making it hard for a viewer to know
which parts are real, which are literary-artistic allusions and which are
surreal fantasy. The film begins in a mirrored studio; dancer-director Antonio
auditions "his" girls while seeking "the perfect Carmen." We
are introduced to Spanish popular dance and Flamenco music when renowned Paco de
Lucia, after hearing Bizet's Seguidilla, seemingly improvises a guitar
rendition in a popular "jazz" Flamenco style called "Bulerias."
Likewise, Antonio is so enthralled by Paco's invention that
he calls out to Cristina, his best dancer, and the two perform another apparent
"improvisation," this time with the extemporized dance steps which
introduce us to the multiple- interpretation layers of this story. Merimee,
Bizet and current Spanish culture are closely interwoven in this film; but while
it is helpful if one knows the first two sources in order to understand Saura's
messages, adaptations and pointed social-surreal commentary, the film is so
powerful that it stands on its own!
In the plot many things progress simultaneously, and even
though the dialogue is in rapid, slang-ridden Andalusian Spanish, subtitles and
especially the body language make the story clear -- or at least as clear as
Saura seems to want it to be. Antonio finds a novice dancer named Carmen (played
by Laura del Sol): immature, untrained, eager and willing, in whom Antonio
perceives the fiery qualities of eyes, lips, body and spirit about which Merimee
had written in 1845. A Pygmalion quality emerges in that creator Antonio alters
his created Carmen and then tries to possess her, only to find that the reality
did not turn out in the way his original illusion had been perceived.
Antonio asks his aging star, Cristina, to help Carmen
become a fine dancer, which she unwillingly does, but then is knifed in a
spectacular dance number (reminiscent of West Side Story -- or was it just a
rehearsal and not the real enmity between leading lady and her ambitious
understudy?) There are intriguing, emotion-manipulating reversals, as in our
recognition that the young dancer with whom we had earlier sympathized suddenly
becomes dominant: Carmen is now the man and Antonio the woman, with each
character mouthing relevant dialogue while projecting the appropriate body
There are marvelous moments of fun (the mock bull fight)
contrasted with the obsessive cane duel (where it is obvious Antonio no longer
knows whether he is Antonio or José). Changes in pace and mood are sudden,
electric. There are stunning, thought-provoking mirrors, lamps, lightings,
reflections and shadows. Steps and styles of Flamenco dancing inform and
educate, especially traditional "Sevillanas," a complex four-part
structure danced in common culture by thirty million Spaniards who take lessons
fervently -- similar to Country Swing.
The drama ends when Antonio (or is it José?) stabs Carmen
three times with his switchblade (or did he only wish to stab her in his
fantasy?). She falls dead, classic, off-stage: the camera pans left, showing no
one had noticed. We are left to ask, "did she really die? Was Antonio
exorcising her from his mind? Was the whole thing a male fantasy?" We don't
know Saura's intent, but we won't soon forget the heart-pounding staccato music
The Russian film, Carmen Suite, features the Bolshoi
Ballet with Maya Plesitskaya as Carmen in a modern dance style, utilizing
Bizet's music, adapted and modified by Rodion Shchedrin. The forty-five minute
rendition is unfortunately marred in the video's technical translation
("envelope" is wider but not as high), resulting in our occasionally
losing the dancers off the edges of the screen. Set in a mock arena, with
look-alike spectators and a uniformed judge sitting atop the surrounding wall,
one is thus initially placed in a regimented society prepared to disapprove of
any kind of social non-conformity. And Carmen does not conform, either in dress,
movement, attitude or expression.
In contrast, José is compliant, neatly uniformed,
goose-stepping to the magistrate's commands. Dancing about, Carmen slowly
awakens him, turning his inhibited stiffness into fluid, intimate joy. Offered a
mask (of social conformity?), Carmen rejects it, causing her arrest by the
magistrate, who also desires her. José tries his best to take her to jail, and
she is amusingly exasperating in her digressive and distractive non-compliance.
After all, short of using threats or actual force, how does one make a
spirited woman do something she does not want to do? One feels compassion for
José, unable to solve his dilemma.
Escamillo, conversely, "floats" as he strides
across the stage, adored by all. Soon we are shown Carmen caught in the visual
triangle formed by the three men. The figure of fate, dressed in black, dances
in to show us the predicted future. The four meet in the arena: Carmen and Fate
(now the bull) dance alternatively with Escamillo and José in
simultaneous-contrasting actions until Carmen is stabbed. She lovingly caresses
her Jose's face before collapsing in death. One wonders if the ideology of the
then socialist state was well served with images that seem to evoke more
sympathy for José-Carmen than bullfighter-magistrate. That is my
perception: maybe the Russian audience didn't see it that way.
Peter Hall and the Glyndebourne Opera.
Considering all the foregoing diversity, the English
"Carmen" by Peter Hall and starring Maria Ewing is a quite traditional
performance of Bizet's original work. Filmed at the rather small Glyndebourne
theater, this three-hour performance is not a motion picture but rather a
videotape of the performed opera. Gone are Rosi's fancy camera movements,
spirals and zooms -- we occasionally are given extreme close-ups, but mostly are
shown broad views in a box-like though versatile stage set.
We watch Sir Bernard Haitink and his baton while the
orchestra plays overture and interludes. We listen to highly-trained operatic
voices give us arias and choruses while singers essentially stand fast in their
places rather than moving about and acting out, as in the other films. But then,
one basic difference between opera and motion picture is that singing has
priority over acting. Another is that while movies are young and open to
innovation and technology, opera is highly bound by conventions accumulated over
centuries. Consequently, the opera is here presented both in its entirety and in
Bizet's intended order, accounting for the additional length as well as
increased information and character development.
For instance, in the first act, the audience learns more
about José's past, his mother's adopting of Micaela, Carmen's sly insinuations,
as well as the fact that she initiates flirtation with José's commander, Zuñiga.
Rosi had not shown us any of these. In Act Three, Carmen and her two gypsy
friends sing enthusiastically about their forthcoming seduction of the customs
officers so that the smugglers will be able to slip through the pass -- Rosi
doesn't show us that, either.
This trio and dialogue is absent from all recent Carmen
films: in this operatic version we get a more complex Carmen and a deeper
anguish from José, as he points to the valley and talks about his dying mother
still believing him to be honest, moral and reliable. Since many modern persons
who "know Carmen" will have seen movies but not the Libretto or a full
version of the Opera, it becomes apparent they cannot know the Carmen Bizet
created, and therefore his apparent intent. Instead, they know the Carmens
"adapted" by other directors.
Maria Ewing's Carmen (along with Rise Stevens'?) is perhaps
the least likeable, the most diabolical -- she shows a moody, calculating
coldness. Relationships are transactions, and it is much easier to sympathize
with and have compassion for José's anger, frustration and desperation, despite
his continuous need to make wrong choices. Costumes and sets are designed
primarily in brown tones, perhaps suggesting the overall "ashes-to-ashes,
dust-to-dust" theme? It is no surprise that Ewing's New York performance of
Carmen drew rave reviews: it is a traditional Carmen fulfilling general
expectations: the voluptuous seductress, the Old Testament epitome of the
female-evil stereotype so many viewers demand.
Wendy Corbett and the illustrated Libretto.
Another interesting development occurred in 1987 -- an
adjunct to opera in general, but still involving Carmen. The Royal Opera House
in Covent Garden, England, published a series of illustrated operatic libretti,
including The Magic Flute, Madam Butterfly, and The Flying
Dutchman. Carmen is by Wendy Corbett, with a "Classic
Comics" quality since both lyrics and dialogue, in English translation, are
given to the reader in the form and layout of colored cartoon strips.
It makes comprehension easy in our days of diminished
reading abilities, and at the same time, provides one more Popular Art through
which Carmen can be told. However, it is different from reading the libretto,
the words written by the librettists in the 1870's. There, one creates one's own
visual image of the respective characters, with mind's eye responding with
mental pictures to the stimulus of the printed words.
Here, Wendy Corbett draws pictures for us, and we have our
thinking pre-programmed with a young, pleasant face with blond hair for José,
and a dark, rather hard-looking, leggy, full-breasted, not-terribly pretty
Carmen with a very noticeable "beauty mark" near her eye. Micaela, in
contrast, is also blond, has a pretty face and a winning smile, and whatever
alluring sexual characteristics she might have are given no prominence.
Escamillo, like Carmen, is also dark, with flashing eyes and slicked-back hair.
It raises interesting questions. Where is Bizet? Are these
stereotypes? Are they racial or physical formulas which serve as shorthand
symbols for personality types? Or are we being given Wendy Corbett's personal
interpretation, her own visualizing of what she thinks are appropriate physical
attributes to characterization synthesis? As usual, the "true" story
line becomes subordinated both to the author's purpose and the requirements or
imperatives of the art form.
More Recent Ballets.
Among newer Carmens also exist, the South African
choreographer, John Cranko, who became Ballet director for Stuttgart and then
Munich in the 1960's, established a fascinating focus on Carmen as a member of
the rejected Gypsy minority and who sought her revenge on society, certainly a
historical truth, if not a direct allusion to their extensive though
less-well-known Gypsy "holocaust" genocide by Nazis in World War II.
Veteran dancer Ruth Page, whose "Carmen Ballet"
debuted in Chicago in 1937 as "Guns and Castanets," reworked that
ballet which then ran from 1959 until 1964. She created a performance with the
Dance Theater of Harlem in 1976, showing clearly the possibilities of
African-derived music. In 1990 she took it to Tulsa, Oklahoma, playing to a most
appreciative audience. As yet, however, no film of any of her "Carmens"
seems to have been released.
Operatic Adaptation to Spain's Civil War.
A recent adaptation by Frank Corsaro and the New York City
Opera opened in August, 1990. Corsaro changed the setting: the context is no
longer the Napoleonic invasion, but rather Spain's Civil War, where defeat of
the legitimate Republican Government meant the rise to power of insurrectionist
Fascists under Dictator Francisco Franco. However, in 1936 Seville was
pro-Franco -- we have a lineup of rebel Fascists in control of the city and
immediate surroundings, while Carmen is a Republican Loyalist, whose party holds
control in most other places. The complicated turnabout is confusing.
In the original story by Merimee, the smugglers were not
interested in overthrowing governments -- they merely wanted to avoid paying
taxes. In this 1936 version the smugglers become gun-runners trying to get arms
into the hands of the supporters of the legitimate Republicans who have been
ousted. Carmen is therefore only an outlaw in the eyes of the Fascists --
themselves outlaws because of their revolt against a duly-elected government.
José is a Fascist soldier who must arrest the weapon-smuggling Carmen, and who
must desert his political cause to run off with Carmen after killing Zuñiga.
The question here becomes, "Have we more concern with
political causation or with romance?" In older Carmens the answer is,
"the romance," and the story focuses on love while José going AWOL
seems only a tangent issue. But here, the balance is different -- there is a war
from 1936 to 1939, and its veterans still live, even in the United States, which
sent the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to Spain to help the Republicans. (In this one
we are closer to the audience impact of Merimee's original novel in 1845, with
Peninsular War veterans still alive.)
Carmen and José are political opponents; she is on the
losing side, while he is originally with the winners and switches. When Micaela
and Mother plead with José to return, is their anguish less that Carmen is evil
and more that she is "the Republican enemy, the Communist enemy?" When
José smuggles guns and ammunition has he not joined the enemy, turning his back
on the Right Cause? There are similarities here with the Boshoi Ballet --
politics and love/lust.
Thus, when José kills Carmen at the finale, can his
motives be perceived as the same way as more traditional versions? The
historical adaptation is both interesting and useful, but not likely to
reproduce the "same work in another place and time." An arts
imperative exists, and also a historic and a location-context imperative.
Adaptations and reframings will always be unique.
Carmen on Ice.
Another highly promoted version with a 1990 debut was
"Carmen on Ice," filmed in 1989 in Seville, using portable rinks with
artificial ice, and hiring local folk for the crowd scenes. The stars, who had
all participated at the 1988 Winter Olympics "Dueling Carmens" at
Calgary were Katarina Witt as Carmen, Brian Boitano as José, and Brian Orser as
However, with no Micaela, no García and only mini-roles
for Pastia and Dancaire, one can guess that the story line would focus on the
love triangle rather than contrasting female purity with sensuality or the
struggle between smugglers and soldiers. Story-telling with ice skates makes the
viewer rely on movements, gestures, possible symbols and acting ability of the
skaters to create the characterization and character development.
Neither happens. The characters are two-dimensional,
skating is uninspired, choreography is uncreative and the story of Carmen gets
lost in the skates. José is a sad-sack with two emotions, anger and sadness.
Even when he has it made with Carmen, he seems not to believe it himself, and
therefore, how can we? Carmen and Escamillo skate, having neither personality
nor character development. The final bullfight evokes laughter -- everything
else has been on skates and in period costume -- but the bullring bit is live,
"real" and now!
One scene is clever, well-choreographed, and encapsulates
the theme of a competent woman unfortunately choosing a stupid man. When Zuñiga
orders José to take Carmen to jail, José picks up a rope, ties her hands and
starts to pull. The rope works both ways; she pulls back -- who is on the leash?
The way it ends, Carmen escapes, José becomes entangled and Zuñiga demotes
While not plagiarised, director and choreographer must have
watched many other films. One is repeatedly reminded of scenes in Peter Brook,
Francesco Rosi and the Alonso Ballet. With so many differing styles, the whole
thing never comes together. I felt this film was rushed to capitalize on the
current mania for Spain, anticipating the 1992 Columbus Quincentennial.
Many of these Carmens are commercially available. Based
upon what has already been produced, there will certainly be many more, probably
in many new and as-yet-unused art forms, as well as laser disc and interactive
computer technologies. Older Carmens beget younger Carmens who beget newer
Carmens. The arts interpret life and often serve as models upon which some
people pattern their lives, which in turn serve as life-experience on which
later artists will create new commentary, and so on.
Things may change as people learn that Carmen is always
unjustly blamed for José's downfall and is always killed. Might we see Carmen
avoid past fate and run off with a good-looking, well-heeled and non-abusive
Escamillo as in A Fish Called Wanda? Or a counselled Carmen, with José
rehabilitated for his anger and mother-fixation? Carmen and José could go to
trial with both male and female attorneys. Carmen might teach sex education in
schools, have to deal with multiculturality, or explore various religions in her
afterlife. She could enlist and deal with sexual harassment. She could be an
illegal alien, gay, get pregnant, or contract AIDS. These would push the social
Carmen has significance. The interaction we perceive in
Carmen, José and the others hits deep, emotionally, at karmic level. The
evolution of our cultural conditions, historical past and written interpretation
are vital to us in at least two ways. First, they are powerful, triggering
- to the circumstances of men and women,
- to the problem of good versus evil,
- to expected gender roles and behaviors,
- to the complexity of love-sex-marriage-divorce,
- to conditionings influencing our reactions,
- to the responsible making of choices,
- to the rights and responsibilities of humans, and
- to the establishment of global principles for social justice.
- to the tolerance and understanding of other races.
Second, the many artistic renderings of Carmen are a mirror
of societal ideas and attitudes which have accumulated over a long, long time.
As humans we are channeled by our past. What we believe, what we value, the way
we structure our society and institutions as well as how we organize the various
expressions of our beliefs and values are primarily inherited and conditioned
phenomena; they are not new ideas and inventions created by us. They are
passed down to us.
But things are not tranquil now. We are in flux, our
society groans with immigration and internal migration, changing ethnic ratios,
diversifying sexual orientations, increasingly revisionist politics, and an ever
accelerating velocity of technological change.
We can and do change, we can and do modify,
and since we have already reinterpreted, we can learn to reinterpret even more.
More often, however, we take the easier path, perpetuating our inheritance
without evaluating it, without examining whether we need or want to repeat
Opera is a highly conservative art form, and in staging new
productions we sometimes slavishly try to keep going back to the original and
simply make the costumes fancier.
But while past concepts, beliefs, forms, images, messages,
conditions, contradictions and dilemmas clearly have engulfed us, we are also
influenced by what we have not been allowed to inherit because of past
societal decisions and conditions.
As the children of past generations, our thinking and
defining is at the mercy of what has been allowed to filter down to us, either
through deliberate choice or inadvertence. Some past truths have been totally
lost, while others have survived partially in spite of extraordinary societal
efforts to destroy them.
Still, history is only a literature through which we try to
retell what we want to remember about the past: the original writings are not
sacred, despite what some people believe, and despite efforts to sanctify them.
As humans we can change the way we interpret. History does not require
that we perpetuate all of humankind's past habits. Perhaps Carmen and her many
updates can well serve us as teacher and humanistic guide.
PS. We are clearly not done yet -- this chapter will have
to be CONTINUED as more Carmens appear! Do YOU want to write one?