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2002-12-20
For example, if I were to paint my fingernails green...

And it just so happens that they are green...

 

I've just seen the film version of Cabaret for the first time. I bought the 1998 New York revival CD awhile ago, and then saw a stage version in New Orleans. And, being that I am a geek and have a tendency to completely obsess over something when I fall in love with it, I shall compare the three now.

The film version has a grungier, more distressed look to it, but the sound is too processed and Broadway to really fit in. Add into it Fosse's love of "spirit fingers" and Liza Minelli prancing around like a little girl in her mother's shoes (which seems rather appropriate, including voice-wise), and it feels less like 1930s Germany and more like the 70s Las Vegas version of 30s Germany. Which, actually, I think it was.

The stage version and the recording, however, have a more distressed sound -- instead of sounding like they've been in voice lessons all their lives, the actors sound like abused and battered, gin and cigarettes, deadbeat cabaret singers just trying to make their way through life.

This was extremely apparent in "Cabaret" -- in the 1998 stage version, Natasha Richardson falters on the line "she was the happiest...corpse...I've ever seen." Which gives it loads more emotion. Liza, on the other hand, just blusters through it with Broadway panache, making it seem as though she were singing about daisies or puppies, not dead hooker friends.

And the version I saw in New Orleans -- with Lea Thompson playing Sally (yeah, Lea Thompson. Dude! Marty McFly's Mom in a basque and suspenders!), it was even more of a faltering foolish woman, dancing as the world ended. She couldn't hit the notes right, she wasn't the best singer, but it worked so very well -- Sally Bowles would never be a star, no matter how hard she tried, because she just wasn't good enough.

And I think that's part of the beauty of it all. All these people striving and pushing and wishing for greatest, but the entire universe is against them and they don't realize it...

It's tragic. It's beautiful. It's everything.

 

Although I don't know if it's fair to compare the film with the revival -- it's like comparing lemons with oranges. Sure, they're both citrus, but there's a big difference. And although I did like the plotline of Brian/Sally/Maximillian, I liked the Nazis/ex-boyfriends/old-people-in-love plotlines of the stage version a bit more.

Joel Grey has very scary teeth. And I didn't realize how attractive Michael York is.

 

And now I keep wanting to sing songs from it. But I have an even worse voice. Which would make me perfect for a German cabaret. Slap on some makeup, grab me a sparkly dress, and I'm good to go.

 

Also: Thanks to Peter, whoever he is, for the Secret Santa gift of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban! Yay!

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