Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen has been through many cinematic iterations — Carlos Saura turned it into a flamenco spectacular, while the late Jean-Luc Godard somehow managed to come up with an existential thriller — but Benjamin Millepied’s reimagining might be the most original take on it yet.
“It’s about a woman who’s running for her life, from Mexico to the U.S.,” he explained when he visited Deadline’s TIFF Studio. “And as she crosses the border, she encounters a border patrol and a Marine with PTSD. Everything goes wrong in that moment, and they end up fleeing together towards Los Angeles. So, it’s a movie about freedom, love and death — with lots of music and dance. It’s a complete reimagining of Carmen, with all-new music, about a woman who can love and be loved, and who expresses her freedom through movement and song.”
Toronto Review: Benjamin Millepied’s ‘Carmen’
The film is something of a passion project for the director. “It was an opera that I grew up with,” he said, “that really stayed with me throughout the years. And when I was thinking, even in my early 20s, about the film I wanted to make — because I was making short films, dance films — it always stayed with me.”
Millepied revealed that he was inspired by a friend, opera director Peter Sellars, to depart from the original text and make something new. “He said to me, ‘Oh my God, the story is so uninteresting and so bad, you have to completely reinvent it.’ And I started agreeing with him. It’s a 19th-century woman written by a man who knew nothing about women. But we also wanted to make it really contemporary, with a story that people could relate to — the idea of a character that is fierce and independent.”
To hear more about Carmen, click the link.
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