Review of the documentary about Miguel Vasquez “The Last Great Circus Flyer” at The Sarasota Film Festival #SFF2015

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Review by: Marijke

The Last Great Circus Flyer, a documentary about Miguel Vasquez who IS the last great trapeze artist, flowed more like a movie than a documentary. At the young age of 17 Miguel mastered the quadruple somersault flying thru the air to be caught by his brother Juan. Even though the film took 6 years to make, it almost appears as though it was filmed in one smooth flow—-using some older authentic footage to highlight various stages of Miguel’s career.

Thru-out the film, the director/producer, himself having been an actor in his lifetime—used present day Miguel, Juan their wives and others, to intercede with commentary about what was about to happen or to explain some of the footage that was about to be shown. The writer feels, that even though the audience may not have been aware of the effect that this had on them, giving the audience notice of what was about to happen thru these solo talks, actually gave a calming effect and took away the fear that the audience may have had that something bad or horrible, like an accident may occur. It allowed the audience to enjoy watching these feats of high daring without constant paralysis to the senses.

Whether it was the camera angle or just the perception that the audience was give, Miguel, his brother Juan and all the other “flyers”, as they are called, seemed taller and larger than life. In actual fact Miguel and most of them are rather short and lightweight looking people—very, very fit with a lot of muscle, as was evidenced when meeting them after the film was shown. What also came across the screen, was that Miguel, who was the feature reason for making this documentary, was and is a humble person. That in itself is noteworthy as many performers who reach the the pinnacle in their field get to being full of themselves and some therefore loose it all. Miguel certainly showed that without his brother, who was the “catcher”, and the support of having the whole family in the business–he would not have been able to succeed.

The film was rather long and for those who are not into all things circus, it may have been a bit too long. However, it was well laid out and gave a realistic view honoring a living legend.

All in all this film was a 4.5 out of 5.



The Last Great Circus Flyer
Feature | 118 Min
A quadruple somersault was considered impossible until 17 year old Miguel Vazquez achieved this ‘impossible’ quadruple during a 1982 Ringling Bros. performance. Vazquez’s ‘Quad’ was a premiere attraction at Ringling Bros., and the largest circuses in Europe until in 1994, at the apex of his career, Vazquez unexpectedly quit flying. Filmed over a 6 year period, this film addresses the triumphs, dangers, fears and oftentimes tragedies of trapeze performers through interviews with great flyers of the past and performances by young flyers from Ringling Bros., Cirque du Soleil, and Circus Vargas.
Film Info
Genre: Documentary
English Title: The Last Great Circus Flyer
Category: Documentary Feature
Release Year: 2015
Runtime: 118 minutes
Type of Film: Documentary Feature
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Production Country: USA
Original Language: English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast: Miguel Vazquez
Juan Vazquez
Patricia Vazquez
Rosa Vazquez
Tony Steele
Tito Gaona
Paul Binder
Josue Marinelli
Armando Farfan Jr.
Director: Philip Weyland
Executive Producer: Mark & Julie Charvet
Produced By: Philip Weyland
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