"The moment of truth" walks a fine line between documentary and fiction without ever committing to one of the two genres, which would have infused the film with a life of its own. Occasional sparks make me long the film it could have been. What initially starts as a film about honor and tradition ends up somehow meaningless, as heard in the words of Miguelin himself: "I'm just doing it for money".
Erstwhile Marxist Rosi has not utilized a sufficiently Brechtian approach to this material (indeed we are talking about some pretty exacting faux vérité) to excuse the fact that the citizens of Spain are herein speaking Italian. No matter. A lot here to cherish. A phenomenal collaboration w/ cinematographer De Santis. Though Rosi needed rubber stamping from the Franco regime, it's still unquestionably subversive.
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!
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.