Posted in Film & TV by jukeboxparables on April 12, 2009

Don’t you just love SBS? Channel surfing late at night right before your about to go to sleep because of work the next day and you stumble across a random foreign movie and out of boredom you give it 5minutes and the next thing you know you have to watch it. The most recent case being a movie called Camarón.

A Spanish movie about a traditional flamenco gypsy singer, I of course missed the opening title so had to check up on it to see what it was called and low and behold It was actually a biopic documentary. This does make sense as it was rather brilliantly written and shared a lot of the themes of better known music biopics. You could even say it is the Spanish version of Control, Last Days or The Doors biopics. Actually leave Last Days off that list it was utterly grating (and I guess It technically wasn’t a biopic) But yes what made this Music-biopic so darn impressive was not only the story/depth but the actors themselves.

The biopic portrays the life of Camarón de la Isla, from a young boy dreaming about becoming a bull fighter in rural Spain through the rise of his career as an amateur vocalist or “clapper” and the various trails and tribulations / escalating drug use on to becoming Spain’s most famous Flamenco Gypsy singer. The story is also intertwined with the early life of Paco de Lucía an Internationally renowned and influential Flamenco guitarist.

The real story aside for one moment, the actors in this movie are brilliant. As in they actually had to be able to sing and play guitar to dizzying standards. I’m wondering if the actor who portrayed Cameron; Óscar Jaenada perhaps had his vocal singing scenes dubbed over by the real deal? I mean I’m not too quizzed up on the Flamenco gypsy scene but it sounded awe inspiring to me. If it was indeed Óscar Jaenada then the man has more than acting talent in his own right. Though music wise; I know my guitar and the actor portraying guitarist Paco de Lucía was amazing. Spot on classic Flamenco guitar action.

The scenes with Camarón and Paco were based on their collaboration and touring for 9 albums in between 1969 and 1977. From when they initially met through to touring the country as stars. The film (as is probably expected) goes down a tragic path near the end (isn’t this always the case with Artists of true talent?) and perhaps if you go into watching Camarón with the fore-knowledge that it’s based on the life of someone real the ending will have; I think, an amplified numbing effect.

You do probably have to have an open mind to new and different styles of music to enjoy this though. I can see how it could be dull to those who are not open to new sounds especially us non-Spanish speakers who don’t understand what the lyrics are about. But if you are clued up on music then lyrics are not needed; you can ‘hear’ exactly where these anguished songs are coming from and feel loosely what they’re about. That’s part of the movies charm to me. A lot of the scenes of the film are just the stripped back intimacy of a gig/show. Camarón singing and Paco playing guitar. You’ll either totally fall into the sound or won’t. It’s subjective.

I won’t go into detail about the rest of the story as not to ruin it. If you like Music biopics then check this one out, It’s up there with the better lot of Western music Biopics. It unfortunately only had a Spanish release in 2005 but you can pick it up on DVD.

It’s International title is: Camarón: When Flamenco Became Legend

The film won a swathe of awards mostly with Óscar Jaenada as Best Actor and deservedly so!

Check out this video; of the real deal. Paco and Camarón. The guitar work is astounding. It also features great haircuts!


One Response

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  1. Mark Dias said, on April 12, 2009 at 11:18 am

    This movie looks interesting. I am going to watch out for it. I lived in Northern Spain, Segovia and I speak Spanish, so I am always looking for good Spanish movies. I do that all the time what you did, searching for foreign films that are good. I do it constantly on the Independant Film Channel, and the Sundance channe. I also do it on HBO latino since I do not need subtitles


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