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Carmen

1915 59m Drama List
80% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 67% Audience Score 100+ Ratings
Helmed by legendary director Cecil B. DeMille and loosely based on the Prosper Mérimée novella, this early silent drama concerns hot-blooded gypsy Carmen (Geraldine Farrar) and her attempts to seduce Don Jose (Wallace Reid), a lawman sent to thwart a gang of illegal smugglers in Spain. Carmen's plan backfires when Don Jose's passion for the gypsy girl escalates into a jealous rage as she spurns him for her bullfighter beau, Escamillo (Horace B. Carpenter), with tragic results. Read More Read Less

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Carmen

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Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
John Pym Time Out Frankly a mess. Jul 2, 2020 Full Review Joshua Lowe Variety The magnificence of the scenic investiture as a whole reflects much credit upon the producers and praiseiIs due the director. Jul 2, 2020 Full Review NYT Staff New York Times An ingeniously prepared, picturesque, amorous and exceedingly physical photoplay based on the novel by Prosper Merimée. Jul 2, 2020 Full Review Heywood Broun New York Tribune Undoubtedly Miss Farrar has never acted so well as she does in the screen version of Carmen. Jul 2, 2020 Full Review Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) Surprisingly adult in its frank presentation of an essentially fairly trashy story. Rated: 4/5 Apr 2, 2009 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (5) audience reviews
Nick M Geraldine Farrar knows the character of Carmen like the back of her mantilla having played the role for years in Bizet's opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera and other major houses in the US and Europe. Her international fame added credibility (and, therefore, marketability) to this production, but her atypical viewpoint as an opera singer that dramatic expression was more important than perfect vocal production also made her a smart artistic choice for the silent role. Since the opera's libretto was still under copyright, the DeMille brothers (Cecil B. DeMille directed while William C. deMille wrote the script) chose to follow the story outlined in the novella by Prosper Mérimée; those acquainted with the opera will note several deviations from the more familiar version of the plot, though fate, it seems, is inescapable in both storylines. Farrar's film version of Carmen does no singing, but her performance still resonates brilliantly. Occasionally her expressions become more stagey than realistic, but these indulgences do little to distract from her confident characterizations. She exudes power, and her independence and command of herself does not waver throughout the picture. Wallace Reid, as the ill-used Don José, does not have the star power to prove her equal, though he is capable and has a face that is built for the screen. This is an excellent production, though it doesn't seem to live up to its enthusiastic reception by contemporary critics. Motion Picture Magazine placed it alongside The Birth of a Nation as an "epochmaker" in its own right. Carmen deserves its spot in the National Film Registry, and it is easy to see why it placed #2 in box office earnings for 1915 (behind The Birth of a Nation), though it is not what many would consider an "essential film". For a special treat after watching "Carmen", find Charlie Chaplin's "A Burlesque on Carmen", which is a parody of this production. Oh, and watch the 31-minute version. The 44-minute version was edited together later and Chaplin fought an unsuccessful legal battle to prevent its release. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 06/26/24 Full Review Audience Member The best romance movie ever made! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review david l Carmen is rather standard and old-fashioned in terms of storytelling, but Wallace Reid and Geraldine Farrar are excellent together and quite memorable. The movie is weaker in plot and characterization, but terrific in Cecil B. DeMille's fantastic direction and particularly cinematic due to its superb cinematography and a lot of memorable shots. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member the only survivor of this oft told opera Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member Apparently, [i]everyone[/i] who directed films in the silent era did a version of [i]Carmen[/i], and quite a few directors of talkies, too. There are literally dozens of versions of this film listed in IMDB. (53, if you're curious.) It seems that half of them are in the silent era, though that's probably an exaggeration on my part. This does not have the sweep of most DeMille productions. It's really quite intimate, even by non-DeMille standards. The tinting's a little weird--the picture turns yellow at times and red once or twice, in scenes of high passion. This may be a thing that's common in silent dramas, but most of the silent films I've seen are comedies, so I couldn't say. Really, I don't have much to say about this. I will mention, however, that it's my understanding that higher-end screenings of this [i]Carmen[/i] included both orchestral and choral accompaniment, which makes a heck of a lot more sense than a normal silent version of this film. Seriously. Why so many silent productions of an opera? In case you're wondering, yes, I [i]do[/i] write reviews of practically every movie I get from the library. I didn't review [i]Cane Toads: An Unnatural History[/i], and there've been a few I never did finish, but minus perhaps five or ten, if I've checked it out, you've read about it, at least for the length of this excursion through the catalog. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews
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Movie Info

Synopsis Helmed by legendary director Cecil B. DeMille and loosely based on the Prosper Mérimée novella, this early silent drama concerns hot-blooded gypsy Carmen (Geraldine Farrar) and her attempts to seduce Don Jose (Wallace Reid), a lawman sent to thwart a gang of illegal smugglers in Spain. Carmen's plan backfires when Don Jose's passion for the gypsy girl escalates into a jealous rage as she spurns him for her bullfighter beau, Escamillo (Horace B. Carpenter), with tragic results.
Director
Cecil B. DeMille
Producer
Cecil B. DeMille
Screenwriter
William C. de Mille
Production Co
Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company
Genre
Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 14, 2020
Runtime
59m
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