Archive for the ‘ Tango In Film ’ Category

1993, November 30 – PREMIERE, “SCHINDLER’S LIST”

The classic tango “Por Una Cabeza” written by Carlos Gardel in 1935, is playing as Oskar Shindler is entering the night club to meet all the Nazi officials…”Schindler’s List” is a film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, a greedy war profiteer, the unlikeliest of all role models who then employs his skills and spends vast sums of his money to save thousands of Polish jews and risking his life in the process….the film’s soundtrack includes  “Ostatnia Niedziela” (Death Tango) which was played as jews were led to their death in nazi gas chambers…Shindler’s List, directed by Steven Speilberg, is based on the novel “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally…it Stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Goth and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern…


The film was a box office success and recipient of seven academy awards including “Best Picture”, “Best Director” and “Best Original Score” as well as numerous other awards (7 BAFTAs, 3 Golden Globes)…In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its”List of the 100 Best American Films of All Time”…The lyrics of “Por Una Cabeza” speak of a compulsive horse track gambler who compares his addiction for horses to his attraction for women; Carlos Gardel was himself, a compulsive race horse gambler…the version in Schindler’s List, by the Rococo Quartet, is in the eyes of many, the best version ever after the original…Por Una Cabeza has been used in numerous films including the legendary, Scent of a Woman, where Al Pacino, as a blind, retired army colonel, dances to it…Interestingly, the most recognizable portion of the melody is borrowed from Mozart’s Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C, K. 373 (about two-thirds of the way through the piece)….tango has a strong jewish influence; two of its greatest, Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Pugliese, were of Italian jewish origin


  • CLICK HERE – to see the scene where Oskar Schindler walks in to the night club with “Por Una Cabeza” playing in the background…this is a version which has been modified from the original which was only an instrumental…in the eyes of many this is actually an improvement over the original

1916, November 13 – LATIMER LOSES EYE TO TANGO !

That night Brent Latimer had taken the long train ride from Greenville to Ashville North Carolina to attend a tango dance which he had read about in the newspaper…once there he was quite smitten by a fashionable young lady and finally found the nerve to ask her to dance…he was totally immersed into the magic of the moment, when suddenly, during a turn, the quill in the girl’s hat somehow entered behind his glasses and pierced his right eye…he was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately nothing could be done and he lost sight completely in that eye…Tango was all the rage then and had been popularized primarily by the mythical dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle who made close dancing chic in America with their success on broadway and with their best seller “Modern Dancing” published in 1914…


On a trip to Paris performing the latest American dances, the Castles were the rage of Parisian society and it is there that they discovered Tango…their success was widely reported in the United States, preparing their way for a triumphant return to New York in 1912 and their introduction of this new dance to American society eventually even popularizing an innovative hands free tango step…Irene was the daughter of a prominent New York physician and Veron was an aspiring actor from Norwich England…their marriage was not approved by Irene’s father but together they would attain fame and fortune….he died at the age of 30 as a decorated pilot in World War I; she would marry three other times but would pay tribute to him in her memoir “My Husband”


  • CLICK HERE – to see a clip of Vernon and Irene Castle dancing including an instant when they dance the tango…the later part of the clip shows a section from the the 1939 film “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle” starring Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers

2001, October 19 – PREMIERE OF “WAKING LIFE”

Film – Inspired by philosopher  George Santayana’s maxim “Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.”…..directed and written by Richard Linklater, “Waking Life” is an innovative, digitally animated film with a thought-provoking score composed and performed by Austin based, tango nuevo style, Tosca Tango Orchestra which bills itself as  “the 21st Century Tango”…a noted critic said about the film, “with Waking Life, Linklater has created perhaps the most vivid dreamscape ever to reach movie screens”


Embracing groundbreaking technology, “Waking Life” follows a young man who arrives in Austin and hitches a ride with a stranger who engages him in a conversation about rarely considered facets of life…as the visitor drifts through the city, he encounters a variety of people and finds himself absorbing their views on art, philosophy, society and numerous issues of contemporary life; an obsession with dreams and their power to sustain begins to grow in him…Linklater used a method that involved filming his actors in digital video; the frames were then painted by a crew of artists…the film garnered ecstatic reviews and won several awards



Film – Time Magazine wrote, “Any moviegoers who are not shocked, titillated, disgusted, fascinated, delighted or angered by this early scene in Bernardo Bertolucci’s new movie, Last Tango in Paris, should be patient” …the film portrays a recent American widower who takes up an anonymous sexual relationship with a young, soon-to-be-married Parisian woman….The film’s raw portrayal of sexual violence and emotional turmoil led to international controversy…in Italy, the supreme court ordered that all copies of the film be burned and Bertolucci was put on trial for obscenity


The idea for the film, grew from Bernardo Bertolucci’s sexual fantasies, stating “I once dreamt of seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was”….Maria Schneider, who plays the young girl, was to say many years later that making the film was her life’s only regret, that it had ruined her life...”I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped both by Marlon and by Bertolucci”…..Marlon Brando received an Academy Award nomination for best actor and Bernardo Bertolucci was nominated for best director.