My most recent column for Strange Horizons went up this week! “A Strange and Savage Beauty: Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Trilogy” explores one of my favorite instances of dance as a speculative element – Saura’s trio of flamenco films (Bodas de Sangre, Carmen, and El Amor Brujo) that are linked by their stars, their aesthetics, and the bone-deep exploration of the line between reality and performance, and what happens when that line ceases to matter.

It’s also an excuse for a lot of amazing flamenco, but whatever, this is sci-fi!

This shot pretty much encapsulates the sort of thing Carmen does so well in these movies: the stripped-down set, the mirroring of character and dancer without any distinction which is meant to be which, the dancers in the background who may or may not be in character, and who may or may not be watching.

This one is from one of my favorite scenes from Carmen, in which Cristina Hoyos and Antonio Gades take a break from playing doomed lovers and instead play “Antonio” the choreographer and “Cristina” his partner and teaching assistant, who in this scene is told that she is not going to play Carmen because she’s too old. Here, a glimpse of her epic bitchface:

And of course, the dancers behind them are in character.

The movies really are amazing; they’re not for everyone, and only El Amor Brujo even makes an attempt to be anything like a standard movie musical, but all of them are beautifully crafted, and Carmen is quickly rising through the ranks of my favorite spec movies, and of my favorite dance movies. (Don’t worry, Fred and Ginger, you’re safe…for now.)

Fun fact: someone has been kind enough to seed the entire trilogy on a particular site that shows moving pictures, if you know what I mean, and you’re interested in checking this trilogy out and don’t want to wait forever for Netflix to have it.

SUPER fun fact: my VHS-to-DVD burn of El Amor Brujo that I bought way back when is missing the first minute or so of this movie, pans across – wait for it – the entrance to the soundstage on which the rest of the movie is filmed. Well played, Saura.

Some small, dance-heavy clips for the curious, under the cut!

Here, Gades and Hoyos together in “El Amor Brujo,” to give you an idea of their chemistry:

And here, one of my favorite numbers from the entire trilogy, the fight scene from Carmen, in which a bunch of women dance their asses off, and Cristina Hoyos and Laura del Sol do a lot of loaded staring.

And on a very shallow level, Antonio Gades and Cristina Hoyos have seriously amazing faces – for most people that’s not enough reason to watch a movie, but I have sat through some truly awful films out of loyalty to talented people with good bone structure, so.