Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Blood and Sand (1941)

Juan (Tyrone Power) is a young, arrogant bull fighter who dreams of being the best in the world. He soon reaches his dream and marries his childhood sweetheart (Linda Darnell). At the height of his success he is seduced by wealthy aristocratic Doña Sol des Muire (Rita Hayworth) and his life takes a downward turn.

Blood and Sand was a remake of a silent film of the same tittle starring Rudolph Valentino and released in 1922 (this film in itself was a remake of a 1916 film). Both films were based on a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.
The film is beautifully shot, bringing together all the colour and vibrancy of Spain. The film won best cinematography at the Academy Awards. The costumes of the characters are also telling. Darnell is dressed in traditional clothes, demure, with high necks and full skirts. Hayworth is dressed in the latest fashions from Paris, she is chic and elegant, this heightens her differences from the other women in the town, she is alien and it attracts Power.  Power's costumes are gaudy, his bullfighting regalia is full of colour and gold, it marks his transition from poor boy to a celebrity akin to royalty. His clothes also serve as a reminder of his obsession with the material, and his lack of spiritual or personal regard for those around him.

Some scenes in the film are hard to watch particularly when they involve the bull fighting. It's cruelty makes it hard to sympathise with any of the characters for that point alone.
The fighters sacrifice their lives for the sport, but a lot is made of their educational sacrifices, none of them can read or write. This serves to highlight how superficially Juan appears to have everything, he is successful, has beautiful clothes and house, but underneath he has little, he is illiterate, he has lost most of his money and has lost his wife and the support of the crowd. In the end Hayworth leaves him for a new up and coming fighter (Anthony Quinn). It soon becomes apparent that the film is a dance towards death, from the opening scenes it feels inevitable that Juan will die in the ring.


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