The Moment of Truth, from director Francesco Rosi is a visceral plunge into the life of a famous torero—played by real-life bullfighting legend Miguel Mateo, known as Miguelin. Charting his rise and fall with a single-minded focus on the bloody business at hand, the film is at once gritty and operatic, placing the viewer right in the thick of the ring’s action, as close to death as possible. Like all of the great Italian truth seeker’s films, this is a not just an electrifying drama but also a profound and moving inquiry into a violent world—and perhaps the greatest bullfighting movie ever made. –The Criterion Collection
The films of Francesco Rosi stand as an urgent riposte to any proposal of aesthetic puritanism as a sine qua non of engaged filmmaking. From Salvatore Giuliano to Illustrious Corpses and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, he uses a mobilisation of the aesthetic potential of the cinema not to decorate his tales of corruption, complicity, and death, but to illuminate and interrogate the reverberations these events cause. If one quality were to be isolated as especially distinctive and characteristic it would have to be the sense of intellectual passion, of direction propelled by an impassioned sense of inquiry. This can be true in a quite literal way in Salvatore Giuliano, in which any “suspense” accruing to Giuliano’s death is put aside in favour of a search for another kind of knowledge; and The Mattei Affair, in which the soundtrack amasses evidence that is presented virtually in opposition to the images before us; or, in a more metaphoric sense, Christ Stopped at Eboli, which represents… read more
The realism of this film is well realized due to the choice of lead actor, the gruesome bull fighting footage, and the camera's distance from its subject(s), both narratively through Miguelin and conceptually through the focus on the world of bull fighting, which leads to the relationship between the camera and the spectators, cold and detached from the gore itself, watching only for entertainment.
Through the rough and spontaneous nature of long-lensed hand-held, Rosi (and De Santis) suggests the dangerous unknown of realism, thus relegating the more stationary and calm moments to the imprisonment of the preliterate that Miguelin attempts to free himself from. Fascinating Marxist photo-graphic tendencies where this spontanaety of "realism" often literally ends in horrific and deadly consequences!
Also: Teshigahara’s Pitfall in Chicago, news and great reads.