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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Matador's Mistress (Manolete), 2008

Manolete and Lupe Sino
(Moj Salon Za Durenje)
no copyright infringement intended

Passionate love, intense and torrid as only a corrida can be. Two beings in close intimacy, yet enemies. You painfully need the other, you know too well that in the end you'll kill or you'll be killed, but the need is too intense, impossible to resist. The fatal moment will come, and still you'll realize that it's been worth.

For Manolete the fatal moment came in the bullring of Linares: the 28th of August, 1947. It was there he met his last bull. The fatal encounter, el momento de la verdad. Gored by the beast he passed away several hours later. His mistress Lupe Sino was not admitted to stay with him during the agony. Spain of 1947, enforcing traditionalist values, totally male-oriented. Manolete's love for a free woman like Lupe Sino was very badly received.

Since then, each year on the 28th of August a bunch of roses is put in the arena, on the place where he fell. His memory slips in legend. In the words of Ricardo Delgado and Francisco Caño, he was second to none, in a class of his own. Maybe the greatest bullfighter of all times. And the words of Delgado and Caño come in my mind again, standing tall, erect, and with his body close to the beast: two beings, intimate, yet enemies.

Manolete and Lupe Sino / Adrien Brody and Penélope Cruz
no copyright infringement intended

A Matador's Mistress, a movie made by Menno Meyjes in 2008, recreates the portrait of the great matador and brings justice to his long-time mistress. Adrien Brody plays Manolete, and their physical resemblance is uncanny: both very slim, emaciated, very tall, and that mournful expression even in the moment of a smile, like radiating an awareness of fatality, a surrender to destiny. Just another great quixotic wanderer in a glorious line of noble and insane hidalgos. Spain, country of illusory windmills and impossible dreamers ... As for Penélope Cruz (physically very distinct from Lupe Sino, while her huge talent makes this irrelevant), she brings in the role pathos and stamina, and makes the point of the movie. Through her play, it is no more only about a man's passion, it is shared, brutal and total, each one is equally human and beast, victim and villain, innocent and sorcerer.

A Matador's Mistress, 2008
Buika/Mamita, soundtrack
(video by st. forester)

The cinematography is exquisite, with a refined use of colors, with a subtle insertion of original black and white photos and footage, suggesting the atmosphere of those years and the universe of the bullrings. However, all this is here in the movie just a pretext! A Matador's Mistress is not a biopic, far from that. The story goes exclusively in rapid flashbacks, calling flash-forwards that jump again in the past. Their chaotic arrangement seems to defy any logic, but this is on purpose. This movie is a meditative poem about the complementarity of Eros and Thanatos: love and corrida as expressions of a unique truth, our fundamental quest for el momento de la verdad.

Muerte de Manolete por el toro Islero de la ganadería Miura
Linares, Jaén, 1947
(video by CosoTejares)

The skin of Islero, the bull who gored and killed Manolete, is exposed in the Museo de Taurino in Córdoba. His skull is exposed at Restaurante Parrondo in Madrid.

photo by Marcos Mayorga, 2009
no copyright infringement intended

(Iberic and Iberic-American Cinema)


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