Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to Cabaret. The winner of eight Academy Awards, it boasts a score by the legendary songwriting partnership behind another film that would energize the movie musical genre with equal razzle-da... more »zzle 30 years later: Chicago's John Kander and Fred Ebb. Inside the Kit Kat Club of 1931 Berlin, starry-eyed singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) and an impish emcee (Joel Grey) sound the clarion call to decadent fun, while outside a certain political party grows into a brutal force. Cabaret caught lightning (and won Oscars) for Minnelli, Grey and director Bob Fosse, who shaped a triumph of style and substance. Come to this Cabaret, old chum. You'll never want to leave.« less
"While this is probably not a bone of contention with most viewers, I think it's worth noting for those that do pay attention to these things, especially if you base your purchases on them, as I did in this case. The packaging on this newer DVD edition of "Cabaret" states that it is an anamorphic transfer (i.e. "Enhanced for Widescreen TVs"). It is NOT. This is the SAME disc as before, with new a label on it.They merely changed the packaging, I guess, so that they could mention "Chicago" in the description on the back cover and tie it into the heat for that film. Shame on you, Warner Bros. We all work hard for our money and deserve better than to believe we're buying a new anamorphic transfer, when you are really marketing the exact same discs as before."
Dark wild nights in the late Weimar period
Scott Grau | Iowa City, Iowa United States | 05/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good movie, although deeply disturbing. Set in the great city of Berlin in 1931, a time of economic depression and political crisis, this movie constructs an image of the decadence and delusion of the late Weimar period as German society is plunging through a kind of moral and social decay into the nightmare of Nazism. The film is based on "The Berlin Stories" by Christopher Isherwood (written between 1935 and 1939), who lived in the city in the early 1930s. He had seen both the decadence and the dangerous hunger for a kind of national "purification" among many "respectable" and "moral" middle class Germans, who already had been traumatized by military defeat, hyperinflation, and mass unemployment. The film, following Isherwood, weaves together the stories of the marginal characters who live in this troubled city at the very edge of the great moral catastrophe of the 20th century. Liza Minnelli is brilliant as "Sally Bowles", an Americanized version of the British Sally who appears in Isherwood's book, and her energy (and visible angst)drive the film as other characters wander aimlessly through a narrative heading all the time towards disaster. Michael York is effective as "Brian", the fictional stand-in for Isherwood himself, and the other characters present believable and even moving representations of people wandering through the impending nightmare as through a fog. The nightmare itself is suggested by the increasing visibility of the Brownshirts and the sinister swastika, the authentic posters and grafitti from the period, and the passing visual allusion to the street fights and storm troopers. These allusions effectively evoke the sense of uneasiness and danger in the air, an effect reinforced by Sally's deep desire to scream her heart out. The smug and complacent self-assurance of the conservative aristocrat Maximilien, played by Helmut Griem, provides a clue to the almost wilfull blindness of even (perhaps especially) educated Germans to the moral danger posed by the Nazi movement. The anti-Semitism of the movement is also effectively displayed from several angles, most movingly through the love story between Fritz and Natalia. But the strangest character is the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub, played brilliantly by Joel Grey. His character has a sinister ambiguity; is he mocking the Nazis by his farcical musical satires, or rather is he reinforcing the anti-Semitic prejudices of his audience through such pieces as, "If you could see her as I do . . ."? Is his decadence ignoring the danger and plunging his head like an ostrich into the sand, or is it a critical commentary on the pseudo-morality that worries about cabarets while ignoring Nazis? By the way, the entertainment at the movie Kit Kat Klub is first-rate (far, far better than the actual entertainment at the real Kit Kat cabaret, according to the later testimony of Isherwood, commenting on Liza Minnelli's performance). But this Bob Fosse-choreographed spectacle underlines both the brilliance and the moral danger of the cabaret. In historical fact, most Berliners were not Nazis; it was a largely working class town with strong Socialist and even Communist neighborhoods and a powerful left-wing tradition (which is why Hitler hated Berlin). But it was not immune to the Nazis. The Nazis themselves liked to contrast the supposed "healthy" vitality of a romanticized rural and small-town Germany against the decadence of urban Berlin, a point that is made in the film when young Nazi youth leaders at a beer garden lead an increasingly Nazified crowd to join in song celebrating nature and the volk. The film effectively plays out the irony of this contrast between a "moral" rural Germany increasingly drawn to the appeal of a profoundly immoral and murderous movement, and the "immoral" decadence of urban Berlin, many of whose cabaret performers would probably wind up in concentration camps within a few years. Hitler, after all, was big on public "morality." It's just that this kind of "morality" didn't stop him from screaming hatred, fanning murderous resentments, murdering millions of Jews, and plunging Europe into the most catastrophic war in history. Cabaret performers, however otherwise decadent, could not be blamed for that. And decadent Brian even manages to get into a fist fight with some Nazi Brownshirts. This is a great film. It doesn't tell you what to think about the Emcee, or poor yearning but lively Sally, or even Brian himself. But whatever their tales, we know where the story is going. We know what those brownshirts and swastikas mean when we see them reflected in the glass at the end of the film. "Life is a Cabaret," as Sally tells us in her climactic song, but even the best shows sometimes have the darkest endings."
Life is a cabaret, old chum...
Wayne Rossi | Mount Holly, NJ United States | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's often been said about old musical movies that they went too far in the conceit of people "bursting out in song" during a scene. Well, in his film version of Kander & Ebb's masterful Cabaret, Bob Fosse completely got around that problem by presenting the songs on stage. It was handled brilliantly, the choreography was incredible, and the movie just plain works.Cabaret the movie doesn't share many songs in common with the original stage version - it still has "Willkommen," "Two Ladies," "Tomorrow Belongs To Me," a German version of "Married," "If You Could See Her," and "Cabaret" - but that's it. A few new songs were added - "Mein Herr," "Maybe This Time," "Money, Money," - but for the most part it's a lot less sung than the staged version. A lot of musical numbers dealing with the world outside the Kit Kat Klub were used as underscoring, preserving John Kander's great tunes. But this doesn't detract from it being one of the best filmed musicals out there.Fosse's direction is a big help; it has a great eye for early 1930s Berlin, and presents the decadence and foreshadows the Nazis brilliantly. Fosse created great, sensual choreography for the film, and it is completely entrancing to watch the musical numbers. And the rest is worth it, too.Flipflops aside, the couples are presented well; Liza Minelli's portrayal of Sally Bowles is definitely the acting part of a lifetime. She was just completely *convincing* as Sally, from end to end. Michael York as Brian is very reserved, very British, and very studied. Helmut Griem is entirely convincing as Max, who creates tension between the couple after befriending them. The secondary couple is played to perfection by Fritz Wepper and Marisa Berenson, as opportunistic Fritz Wendel who falls in love with the rich young Jewess Natalia Landauer, respectively. And, of course, Joel Grey is spectacular as the haunting, Puckish Emcee.In general, this movie presents itself as a stunning revelation to viewers of a story that will stick around for a very long time. It's a virtuoso interpretation of one of the greatest American musicals, and deserves to be seen."
Life NOT such a Cabaret
John Ottaway | UNITED KINGDOM, | 09/01/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I too had great expectation of this reissue and the main reason I purchased it was for the stated anamorphic enhancement which it definitely is not. With all the interest in Kander & Ebb at the moment, this was a perfect opportunity to revamp a truely classic movie and address the poor transfer of the original issue. Warner are clearly just jumping on the promotional bandwagon with little concern for the value of the movie itself. This is Liza's finest moment and a critic's dream of cinematic metaphor and construction- it deserves better than this. It saddens me to think that it is unlikely to be issued again- the best Warner can do is recall this rerelease and do the job properly. I now own three versions on DVD- the region 2 uk release is even more washed out than the USA issue!"
Aaron Schneiderman | Phoenix, AZ | 08/20/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The 2003 DVD re-release of Cabaret is just a re-packaging of the original DVD. Though the new package details state that it is "enhanced for 16 x 9," this DVD is a non-anamorphic, matted widescreen presentation. So if you were thinking of trading up to this new edition of Cabaret for your new widescreen TV, hold on to your money. I was not so fortunate. I now have two copies of Cabaret with lousy transfers. Whats up with Warner? They screwed up the release of Giant also. This film is a classic and deserves better treatment."