Thursday, May 04, 2006


I don't know if everyone has read the last weekly message (and I'm far less sure if anybody is reading this at all...), but I introduced a book called Tango: the Art History of Love in it. Since I brought it up, I guess I should blog it a little. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1, entitled, "Tango in Hollywood" (If you would like to read more, this site has the excerpt.):

The history of tango tangles with Hollywood. Tango on film is a chronicle of its own, lurid and strange, mixing dreams and deceptions. Often a tango augments a star—Rudolph Valentino, Marlon Brando, Madonna, Al Pacino—not for its sake but for theirs. And the accord with the tango is always with stereotype: sadness, sex, violence, and doom.


The trend toward the real article includes the conversion of a major star of film, Robert Duvall, who makes pilgrimages to Buenos Aires and frequents traditional dance halls. He takes lessons from masters like the late Lampazo, Danel and Maria Bastone of New York, and Juan Carlos Copes, the latter described by Duvall as a “Rolls-Royce without a speedometer.”

A Buenos Aires television special cuts to a dance floor where Duvall sits enthralled with his girlfriend, studying the moves. Early in 2000 Duvall danced tango for President Bill Clinton and the president of Argentina in the White House—at the express request of the Argentine ambassador.On March 28, 2003, Duvall released his own tango film, Assassination Tango. It had cameo appearances by major tango dancers like María Nieves, Milena Plebs, Los Hermanos Macana, Pablo Verón, and Gerardo Portalea. We’ve come a long way from Valentino.

Thompson recalls older films, such as "Blood and Sand" (1922), in which Valentino plays, "Gilda"(1946), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and "Last Tango in Paris" (1972), and basically makes a point that these Hollywood movies didn't portray what tango is about, to say the least. Another film that has a tango scene which Thompson seems to favour is "Soldier of Orange," (1977) a Dutch film about WWII. I don't know if Thompson discusses other films later in the chapter, but here are some tango-related films I could find:
  • El Tango Es Una Historia (1984)
  • Tango Bar (1988)
  • Tango: Baile Nuestro [Tango: Our Dance] (1994)
  • Tango: Obsession (1998)
  • Tango Magic (1999)
  • Café Tango (2001)
  • Blue Tango in Buenos Aires (2004) ~ (This is a documentary/interviews, but it is about Tango)
  • Tango, un giro extraño (2005)

There are many more probably, but these are relatively recent ones oriented toward the history of tango or the dance itself as opposed to the ones that are not really about tango but have one or two tango scenes. I don't guarantee that they are truer to Argentine tango, however. If you have watched any of these films or know other films, please leave your comments.

[The excerpt of Tango: the Art History of Love is from]

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