Thursday, March 13, 2008

Carlos Gardel

"Gardel sings better every day", is a popular saying in Argentina. That statement is given all the more meaning, since it so happens that he died in a plane crash back in 1935.

Carlos Gardel owns the "King of Tango" moniker, even given the existence of Astor Piazzola. Piazzola may be better known outside the country, but Gardel was the quintessential tango singer, and the song is an essential part of tango culture. There are even scholars who study tango lyrics. His grave site at La Chacarita cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for many in Latin America, too.

Why is he revered so, to this day? Well, though what recordings he made are in mono and not of the best technical quality, at least for our modern standards, I suspect that it's because his musicality and dramatic phrasing is too good not to appreciate, at least from my standpoint. And that he died relatively young, a "tragic hero" as it were, can't hurt his cause either.

Given his singing talents, it would make sense he'd become a film star as well, and also since at the height of his career the "talkies" started coming out, so it was a natural next step for him. The photograph here above is a still from the movie Tango Bar, I believe. The YouTube clip below is a song called Tomo y obligo (I drink and I invite) from the film, Luces de Buenos Aires (The Lights of Buenos Aires). The picture quality of whatever DVDs are available isn't nearly so nice, and I don't know if restored versions exist, or if they ever got the DVD treatment. They're not especially great films either--but they're special because of his presence alone. -Antonioni fan

A list of his films:

  • Flor de Durazno (1917)(silent)

  • Luces de Buenos Aires (1931)

  • Esperame (1933)

  • La Casa es seria (1933)

  • Melodía de Arrabal (1933)

  • Cuesta abajo (1934)

  • El Tango en Broadway (1934)

  • El Día que me quieras (1935)

  • Cazadores de estrellas (1935)

  • Tango Bar (1935)

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