Farrar caught the eye of Jesse Lasky when she sang Carmen at the Met in 1914, and he subsequently persuaded her to collaborate with DeMille on this scaled down version of the opera. The print under review (from George Eastman House) has been restored and tinted to DeMille's specifications (the ethereal blue of the opening sequence with the smugglers on a California hillside is notably striking). It's topped with a montage of stills and some historical notes, and tailed with a number of imperfect recordings of Farrar herself. The result, regrettably, despite the academic documentation, is frankly a mess. There are repeated shots of a breached, theatrical wall, and even the bullfight, staged in Los Angeles 'by special arrangement', is an anti-climax by DeMille standards (where are the 20,000 extras?). Furthermore, to add to the sense of hodge-podge, some modern non-synched arias and duets have been added. All the hand-to-hand fights, however, are staged with that uniquely cheerful, silent screen gusto.
Cast and crew
Cecil B DeMille
William C de Mille
Geraldine Farrar Wallace Reid Pedro de Cordoba Horace B Carpenter