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Carmen [VHS] [1985]

4.6 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

4 new from £11.48 4 used from £7.88 1 collectible from £4.70
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Product details

  • Actors: Julia Migenes, Plácido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, Faith Esham, François Le Roux
  • Directors: Francesco Rosi
  • Writers: Francesco Rosi, Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy, Prosper Mérimée, Tonino Guerra
  • Producers: Alain Poiré, Daniel Toscan du Plantier
  • Language: French
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • VHS Release Date: 26 Jun. 2000
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004U8O1
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,071 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Francesco Rosi directs this adaptation of Bizet's dramatic opera. Don José is a guard who begins an affair with the tempestuous Carmen. He is imprisoned and loses his job, then flees with her to the mountains. When the relationship starts to break down José refuses to acknowledge it, and will not leave even when he gets news that his mother is dying. Carmen meanwhile has taken up with the bullfighter Escamillo. Julia Migenes-Johnson and Placido Domingo star with Ruggero Raimondi, Faith Esham and Jean-Philippe Lafont.


This movie version of Bizet's popular opera Carmen was filmed on location, conveying a kind of atmosphere, a sense of space, movement, and presence that's hard to achieve in a staged performance. It takes the action out of doors for many scenes, with the opening titles superimposed on the bloody conclusion of a bullfight. Elsewhere the changing of the guard, the crowd scenes, the dance number that opens Act 2, and the panoramic scenery of the smugglers' mountain hideout all benefit from the freedom granted by movie cameras.

It's an exciting Carmen, too, with a young-looking Placido Domingo in top form for a role he has sung hundreds of times. For Julia Migenes, though, it was her first performance in a role she would have trouble performing in an opera house. Her voice does not fit easily into Carmen's range, and she spent months training it, very successfully, before singing the role in a recording studio where the soundtrack was taped before the film was shot. Casting her in the role was a gamble, but it worked; she is a convincing actress. Unlike most opera-house performances this movie version uses the opera's original opera comique form with some spoken dialogue rather than recitatives.--Joe McLellan, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This review is for the newly restored Blu-ray version of Carmen. This filmed version has been reviewed many times but as far as I am aware only two other persons have reviewed the Blu-ray versions. With this in mind I will concentrate my attention on the technical quality of the disc. Suffice to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the majority of people who commend the quality of the performance. It is superb and Julia Migenes is a fabulous Carmen. So sexy! How could anyone fail to be seduced by such a performance!

But now I must turn my attention to the video quality. I should say at the outset that video quality is important to me and I expect high standards from Blu-ray discs. However, there are many films of a similar vintage where the Blu-ray restoration has been far more effective. At the start of film the quality was reasonably good but it has to be said that the video quality dropped off as the film progressed and the quality soon deteriorated during the outside night scenes or where the lighting levels were lower. The video is on the soft side and the picture sharpness is only up to medium to good dvd levels - certainly not Blu-ray quality. I suspect that the fault lies with the original print rather than the restorative process. Who was the lighting engineer, I wonder? The video quality does improve quite a bit in the final 2 chapters but that does not wholly compensate for the large proportion of the film where the quality is not even up to a good modern dvd.

However, this is a historic film with fabulous performances from all the lead singers. For me it is the benchmark Carmen, despite a slight disappointment with the video quality. There is a choice of soundtracks, all of which are good although I preferred the 5.1 HD Master Sound mix.
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Format: DVD
This fabulous film has been transferred on to DVD - and Columbia Tristar has made a nice, if workmanlike job of it. The picture is the correct widescreen ratio, enhanced for optimum resolution on widescreen TVs. The sound is in stereo, compressed using the Dolby Digital AC-3 system which is not as good as the PCM Stereo format of CD (which is also supported by the DVD format). So, whilst Columbia Tristar have missed a trick in not giving this the same CD quality sound as the CD soundtrack of the film (available on a 3CD set from Erato records/Warner Classics, by the way) the Stereo soundtrack is superior to a VHS Hifi tape and is on the whole well transferred. The lip-synching is good enough to make you forget or at least not care that it is lip-synched and at least the actors on screen are actually the singers (unlike some other more "experimental" opera films). The whole the is beautifully done with breathtaking cinematography, fantastic singing and acting and is an engrossing experinece. For the feint hearted/those of a nervous disposition a warning however: the film opens with some pretty explicit scenes of what I think is a real bullfight (it looks like it anyway - I can't really see a real bullfight getting past the BBFC but you never know this being an "art house" film!) Could have been better from an audio point of view but Highly Recommended!
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Format: DVD
First a word on DVDs. Reviewing opera on DVD is not easy, with a CD there are several factors to consider, the quality of the singing, the orchestra, the conductor, and the quality of the recording. With DVD in addition you have to worry about the acting, the casting, costumes, the setting, lighting, choreography, synchronisation between video and sound and the quality of digital transfer With so many things to go wrong it easy to pick holes in any DVD offering, but that is not the point, opera on DVD is really a tremendous development. For years I struggled to read librettos, trying to follow the plot while listening to CDs or operas broadcast live from the Met, while at the same time keeping track of the words and my place in the English translation. It was not easy, I never really managed to gain a clear picture of the characters or the plot, missed out on many of the subtleties, and was never very clear as to exactly why the soprano was singing this particular aria at this particular time. With DVDs all has changed, it is like a live performance with surtitles, you can see the drama read the words on screen and link it all to the music, wonderful. In future I will buy two version of my favorite operas, one on DVD to learn the opera and the second on CD to enjoy the recording of pre video-era stars.
One word on the sound quality, currently this is really limited by the DVD player, all DVDs contain a sound track that is uncompressed and of higher quality than CD, however as far as I can see at present (Dec 2000) apart from a few high end exotica there is not a DVD player in the world capable of reproducing the sound on DVD disks at even CD quality.
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4 Comments 120 of 125 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Carmen is certainly not one of my favourite operas, yet this production is a fantastic movie. It has been filmed outside on beautiful locations and provides a feast for the eyes. If you like opera movies, this one is a must-have.
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