The story of Carmen, the Spanish Gypsy femme fatale, is one of the most adapted stories in the history of cinema. The films are often a combination of Mérimée’s 1845 novella and the opera Bizet fashioned from the novella thirty years later. Carmen on Film: A Cultural History focuses on 16 of the most important Carmen films, ranging across three main cinemas (Hollywood, France, and Spain), stretching from the earliest films to the most recent (by director): Calmettes (1910), DeMille (1915), Walsh (1915), Chaplin (1916), Lubitsch (1918), Walsh (1927), Feyder (1926), Rey (1938), Vidor (1948), Preminger (1954), Demicheli (1959), Saura (1983), Godard (1984), Rosi (1984), Ramaka (2001), and Aranda (2003).
The story of Carmen has captured the imagination of audiences and readers for more than 150 years. Powrie, Babington, Davies, and Perriam ask why—and in their examination of the numerous cinematic retellings of this popular tale, they offer insight into the cultural significance of the fictional lives and deaths of Carmen.