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The Moment of Truth
BLU-RAY disk
01.23.2012 By: Mathew Plale
The Moment of Truth order
Director:
Francesco Rosi

Actors:
Miguel Mateo
José Gomez Sevillano
Don Ernesto

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The rise and fall story of a farmer's son (Mateo) who becomes a professional bullfighter.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The Moment of Truth opens at the San Fermín Festival and its famous “running of the bulls,” which involves hundreds of people trying to outrun a dozen of the angry beasts. This ends in the murder of one of the bulls and out of the madness comes Miguel (Miguel Mateo), who arrives home to his father’s farm and decides that his dreams do not involve milling or hauling lumber.

Miguel puts the last of his money into bullfighting lessons, but has no patience to study the grace, time or elegance needed to survive that moment of truth when the eyes of man and bull meet. One afternoon, Miguel and his companions watch a fight, and he leaps from the seat with his muleta and dazzles the crowd.

That’s all he wants, really; that fame and fortune that comes with being the best in the game. Miguel is a pro, but he lacks passion for the sport, and just wants to make enough money to live off of for the rest of his life. He is warned that wine, parties and women will only distract him. It’s the same speech managers give their ballplayers. But, of course, such glory brings such things, and The Moment of Truth quickly becomes less about the brutality and legacy of the sport than about the rise and fall of a champion.

So much of what is right with The Moment of Truth belongs to Miguel Mateo, an actual first-class bullfighter who took the role of the cocky Miguel. Though not a terribly convincing actor, he is a master at showing the audience (both those watching the film and those in the arena) the performance and spectacle that goes on inside the ring.

Then, the failures lie mostly on director Francesco Rosi (Salvatore Giuliano, Hands Over the City). This isn’t because he is an outsider (that would suggest Hemingway was also unqualified to write Death in the Afternoon and others), but because he doesn’t seem to care about the tradition and the romanticism as much as his star. And so The Moment of the Truth is severely limited in its intimacy and daringness.
THE EXTRAS
Francesco Rosi (13:51): In this 2004 interview, director Rosi discusses The Moment of Truth.

Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 16-page booklet with an essay titled “The Blood of Beasts” by critic Peter Matthews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Francesco Rosi’s The Moment of Truth may be the ultimate bullfighting film, but there isn’t much competition elsewhere. Though the work as a whole is far from daring or intimate, its lead, real-life torero Miguel Mateo, does a great job of representing the spectacle and the romanticism of the sport. Only a video interview with Rosi is included in the special features.
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