Carlos Saura a man that has spent his career in the Spanish cinema has made great contributions to the song and dance form in many of his films. Some come to mind, "Carmen", "Tango", "Fados", and many others. It was with eager anticipation we decided to watch "Salome", his 2002 film we had never seen. Judging by the meager comments sent to this entry in the IMDb site, we figured it was never released commercially in the United States, or was only seen in limited venues, perhaps.
The story of Salome, the biblical character, has been interpreted through time by painters that find a provocative subject in a young seductress whose erotic dancing led to the death of the prophet John, the Baptist. Salome, the daughter of Herodias, and the step daughter of king Herod Antipas, conspired with her mother into asking for the head of John, a wish that was granted.
Carlos Saura takes us, first, into the preparation of the dance piece, whose production he is preparing. His alter ego is an actor impersonating the director. The cast is presented; they speak to the camera about their C.V. and what they have done up to that point. The composer of the composer and the costume designer make their point. The performance begins as the director calls for a dress rehearsal. The music is sensual and the style of dance we witness is a mixture of flamenco and middle eastern blend that plays well in the context of the narrative. The story unfolds easily as most of us are familiar with the legend that is being told in a dancing form.
Aida Gomez plays Salome with panache. Her dancing is erotic, as well as her desires for the figure of John, a man that resists the temptations in front of him. Carmen Villena is Herodias, the mother of Salome, has some great moments with her expressive body that exudes slyness as well as lust. Paco Mora is seen as Herod in a performance that combines mime with dancing. Javier Toca appears as John, the Baptist.
Tomatito and Roque Banos provided the music that is mysterious and tuneful at the same time. The film was lovingly photographed by Jose Luis Lopez-Linares, who has worked with Mr. Saura before, and Teo Delgado. Carlos Saura shows his genius for connecting the story he wanted to tell with some fantastic dancing.