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Thread: Ending of Bizet’s “Carmen” Gets a Feminist Makeover

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    Default Ending of Bizet’s “Carmen” Gets a Feminist Makeover

    I know this story is over a year old by now, but it raises some interesting questions to say the least. I don’t know enough about the context leading up to the new ending (e.g. What else was rewritten to make the new ending fit, or did they just leave the rest of the opera exactly as is?) to have any valid opinion on it, but I figured it might be worth discussing.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-w...-idUSKBN1ES1Q6
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    Old classics don't need to be rewritten, and theater and movies don't need to have a political message. Their sole and entire purpose is to entertain, and the fact that they're instead trying to promote this or that political agenda is the reason most movies lately are awful.

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    That’s a great point. And even if one were willing to let it slide in this particular case, the plot as a whole would require some major changes to make the new ending passable IMHO, to the point where it may as well be a completely different story altogether.

    In the original version, while Carmen’s free-spirited and assertive nature is one of her most widely admired character traits (and rightly so), one can’t overlook that she still toyed with and manipulated Don José when it suited her (e.g. seducing him in order to avoid arrest) and then discarded him without a second thought once he had outlived his usefulness to her, not caring in the slightest about how badly her actions (intentionally or not) were harming Don José personally and professionally. That cold apathy toward Don José even until the very end is what makes the original ending plausible in the first place, since the audience still got the sense that she knowingly pushed Don José too far and thereby contributed to her own demise.

    On the other hand, if one were to apply the new ending (Carmen shooting Don José) but leave the rest of the story exactly as it was in the original, the end result would be Carmen knowing that her actions led to an innocent man’s life being ruined, not caring in the slightest about how badly she ruined said innocent man’s life, ultimately killing said man after stripping him of his innocence in the matter... and then getting away with it without any consequences whatsoever. Even from a feminist perspective, such a scenario is enough to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, since Carmen killing Don José only serves to add insult to injury regarding Carmen’s role in his demise, while making Carmen look more like a cold-blooded villain who literally gets away with murder.

    Needless to say, it would take some major changes (if not a complete overhaul) to make the new ending work. Maybe Carmen might feel more remorse for Don José being so badly ruined and try to break things off with him for his own good, but fail to prevent his self-destruction and eventually break down after being forced to kill him in self-defense. Or maybe Don José might not be so innocent after all, but instead he might secretly be a pimp trying to force Carmen into prostitution and/or trying to pressure or otherwise force Carmen to sleep with him; this would make it clear that Don José deserved what was coming to him, while still allowing Carmen to maintain the fiercely independent streak audiences love her for. Those are just two examples off the top of my head, but you get the idea.

    Again, I don’t know enough about exactly how the new ending was applied in this case to pass judgment one way or the other, but these are my thoughts based on what I know about the new ending and the original story.
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    Those are all great points, yes. When it comes to Feminist rewrites, there's a lot of things you can say that I can't, for obvious reasons.

    Though I don't condone violence against anyone, when it comes to well-written theatrical performances, every event happens for a reason, and the ending is foreshadowed throughout the course of the opera. In order for the new ending to make sense, you definitely would need to rewrite the entire script, rather than simply changing details here and there.

    That's one of the greatest sins of trying to spin a movie, play, opera, or whatever to serve a political agenda. You butcher the plot, and upset everyone who is a hardcore fan of the original work. It is better to create an entirely new story from scratch if you want a different sort of message, but instead people piggyback off of the popularity of existing works and spin them to suit their political message, which I find to be lazy and cheap.

    I do realize it's impossible not to include some sort of moral message in a story of any kind, but make it entertaining, and well-written, first and foremost. Don't mess with the old classics, as there's a reason they became classics in the first place. And don't assassinate the character of true heroes from my childhood, either (I'm looking at you, Rian Johnson and Kathy Kennedy... but that's a different topic entirely).

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    Making something new is too much work for these plebs.

    They don't respect what makes the theater the theater, they just want to throw as much bullishit at the ignorant masses as possible and hope something sticks before people come to their senses and say no more.

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    what siks said. they cannot create because they do not have crativity in the void that they call a soul. they are a herd, a hivemind, devoid of any self-awareness or rational thought, or sense of accountability.

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    That’s moving kind of beyond the scope of one play to the state of modern Hollywood (who, to be fair, are indeed churning out a lot of varying-quality remakes because they’re seen as “safer” investments).

    From what I can tell from the linked article, this modified version of Carmen isn’t a remake or a cash-grab but was made specifically to highlight the issue of domestic abuse in Italy.

    It’s also pretty common for theatre productions to show different interpretations of characters / emphasise different aspects of characters and thus give a slightly different meaning to the play. For example, inspector Javert from Les Miserables can be played on a sliding scale of villainous to sympathetic.
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    i've seen Javert as sympathetic/heroic


    yes, he's the antagonsit, and yes he's flawed. But he is in no way, shape, or form, evil. He simply sees the world in black and white, and this might be because he was raised in a jail. all he is is a dedicatedp olice officer.


    Need I remind you that, even though Valjean is a good man, he is still, technically, a fugitive of the law. The law might be wrong, but it is still a true fact that Valjean, and the other rebels, are in fact criminals

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    The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre-Dame de Paris, in its original French) was first modified from a dirge about the futility of human existence to having most of its main characters live by that dastardly plagiarist, populist writer and play write Victor Hugo. . .who also wrote the original Notre-Dame de Paris. It has been further modified, chopped about and its tone and message changed from a message about the importance of architecture and preserving history, into a story about the oppressed fighting for justice.

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    It is interesting how we define good as pleasant sometimes, or sympathetic. One of my favourite books of all is The Scarlet Pimpernel. Sir Percy Blakeney is intentionally written to be cold, worthless, and patronising to his wife. At best he's simply boring. She is written to be a touch spoiled, but in the end she also has hidden depth. There really is not a likable character between them for a most of the book, in my opinion.

    People seem to largely sympathise with people who appear at face-value to be the most like them, or the most smiling or affable, and often don't consider further what things would look like through the lens of someone who frames things differently either by disposition or conscious choice. The characters in this book reflect that to me, I think, and so I really enjoy it. Les Miserables is perhaps a little more well-defined from the beginning since it does not have the same "twist", but I can see the shift in how it's interpreted. If you are not someone who is overly demonstrative or emotional in particular, I think it can be easy for people to assume negatives before positives. The same thing goes for literary characters, maybe. It always makes me think of Longfellow's Hyperion: "Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."

    I think that difference is really the key for me. We do seem to reaffirm traits we want as a society, even if it's a bit arbitrary, and that certainly bleeds into literature. Because of that, as has been said, it makes sense that we'd rework things we feel are perhaps outdated sentiment. Retelling a story in a new voice can be a powerful thing, assuming the one doing the telling understands the original work enough to appreciate what it was meant to convey and how what they want to convey relates? It's... the same as having someone quip back to sarcasm versus having someone take sarcasm at face-value and then try to riff on it earnestly, if they don't understand the source material well.

    Also, completely unrelated, romance is far from my cuppa; but if you've never read Flemming's description of Mary Ashburton at the top of the fourth chapter of Hyperion, it is hands down one of the most romantic descriptions of a woman that I've ever read.

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