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Sangre y arena (1917)

Juan Gallardo, a poor but ambitious young shoemaker's son in Southern Spain yearns to be a matador. To that end he and his companions set out for Seville where he eventually finds fame and ... See full summary »


Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (novel), Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (screenplay)


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Credited cast:
P. Alcaide P. Alcaide
Mark Andrews Mark Andrews
Matilde Domenech Matilde Domenech
José Portes José Portes


Juan Gallardo, a poor but ambitious young shoemaker's son in Southern Spain yearns to be a matador. To that end he and his companions set out for Seville where he eventually finds fame and fortune in the arena. Fawning admirers and parasites, beginning with his brother in law and sister, whom he sets up in their own business surround him. He marries his sweetheart Carmen, only to to neglect her when he meets a Dona Alvira, a man-eating femme fatale attracted to celebrities as long as they remain on top. He also meets a notorious bandit, Plumitas who terrorizes the local countryside and happily evades the law. Eventually, due to his obsession with Dona Elvira, Juan's skills begin to slip and his star begins to fade. His adoring followers drift away and he is fatally gored in the arena. Despite the efforts of the Doctor, Ruiz, he dies with his faithful wife Carmen at his bedside. At the same time, the bandit is recognized in the audience by a detective and is shot dead during an escape ... Written by emuir1

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »





Release Date:

11 May 1917 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Véres aréna See more »

Filming Locations:

Seville, Andalusia, Spain See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Barcinógrafo See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Version of Blood and Sand (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Amazingly good for a film made during WW1.
4 March 2018 | by emuir-1See all my reviews

The first of several versions of Sangre y Arena (Blood and Sand) based on the novel by the best selling Spanish novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. A comment on the shallowness of fame and adulation, this version was made in 1916 under the direction of the author, who also wrote the screenplay. Subsequent versions were made in 1922 starring Rudolph Valentino, 1941 with Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth, and 1989 with Sharon Stone. While the 1941 version shot with 3- strip Technicolor is held as the gold standard, the original film stands up amazing well considering the limitations of film in 1916 (the year it was shot) and the fact that it was made during the first world war. I do not know if it was shown in the English speaking world as the only version existing has Spanish language title cards.

Several of Blasco Ibáñez's novels were filmed and both the novels and films can still be found today. Blood and Sand, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, both Rudolph Valentino vehicles. Torrent, with Greta Garbo, and Mare Nostrum can be a little harder to find. The original version of the Four Horsemen, an anti-war statement, is considered superior to the later 1962 blockbuster, and was a wildly successful film, one of the greatest moneymakers of all time, when it was released.

I am giving the film an 8, as the locations, photography and acting are excellent for a time when films were new. This must have really been something to the audiences of the time, and comparable with D.W. Griffith's 'Intolerance'. The acting is surprisingly free of the exaggerated gestures, forehead clasping, hand writing and over emoting of silent films, perhaps because it was a Spanish and not Hollywood production. Not surprisingly, the screenplay closely follows the plot of the novel without some of the additions and deletion of the later versions, with the exception of the critic, Curra, whom I am sure I remember from the novel.

The film has been restored and rebuilt from bits and pieces found in the Czech film archive and a private collection, is considerably shorter than the original length, as well as very patchy in parts. It also appears to have had fresh title cards in places. For the few really bad sections it would have been better to use stills with title cards explaining the action, as has been done with Rudolph Valentino's 'The Young Rajah'.

For a modern viewer, the rather buxom ladies are a little surprising and an indicator of changing tastes. None of them would be considered attractive today unless they shed half their weight. Despite this minor griping, for a film now 101 years old, shot on severely deteriorating nitrate film, it stands up very well and is interesting to those who like to compare the different versions of a work and see what early non-Hollywood cinema was like. One other interesting part is seeing the street scenes of beautiful Spanish cities at the beginning of the 20th century.

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