Friday, June 19, 2009

Fados resounds with the passions of Portugal

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge HEAR YE: Fado singer Mariza
  • HEAR YE: Fado singer Mariza

The musical performance film Fados isn’t for everyone, but I know David Byrne will love it. The former Talking Heads frontman has long championed exotic world musical styles, so Spanish director Carlos Saura’s tribute to Portugal’s fado traditions should be like catnip to Byrne. Plus, Saura recorded Fados on a soundstage with a visual scheme often comparable to Talking Heads’ classic concert film Stop Making Sense, capturing performers in silhouette or against screens of high-contrasting colors.

Fados marks the third film in Saura’s cinematic trio, which also includes Flamenco and Tango. The other two musical styles hint at flamboyant passions in his latest film. As introductory titles inform the audience, fado emerged in the early 19th century when rural Portuguese moved to Lisbon. Many of Fados’ performers hail not from Portugal but its colonies, and the top of the film features an early parade-like burst of festivities with drums and whistles reminiscent of Brazil’s Carnival.

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(Photo courtesy Zeitgeist Films)

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