The movie “Fados” completes the musical trilogy of award-winning Carlos Saura (“Flamenco,” 1995; “Tango,” 1998). Using Lisbon as a backdrop, he explores Portugal’s most emblematic musical genre (fado) and its haunting spirit of saudade (melancholy). Tracing its African and Brazilian origins up to the new wave of modern faudistas, he ingeniously deploys mirrors, back projections, lighting effects, and lush colors to frame each song, ranging from a campfire ringed by sinuous dancers to a balletic catfight between two jealous women to a thrilling desgarrada (musical duel) in a fado café. The result is a ravishing fusion of cinema, song, dance and instrumental numbers.
The movie”Fados” contains homages to such legends as Maria Severa and Amália Rodrigues, as well as stunning turns by modern stars like Mariza and Camané; but Saura also expands the songs (which traditionally involve just a singer and a guitarist) with dance and encompasses other nationalities (with a special emphasis on performers of color from Portugal’s former colonies) and idioms (such as hip hop, flamenco and reggae). This inclusive, non-purist approach conveys a grand vision of music’s power to break down boundaries: between Iberian neighbors Spain and Portugal, Old World and New, white and black, young and old, rich and poor – a celebration of fado as World Music in the fullest sense of the term. Under the musical supervision of Carlos do Carmo, Fados features one of the finest “World Music” soundtracks to date.