As Powerful As Ever!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 07/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It can be a big mistake to rewatch your favorite films from the 1970s, assuming you saw them first run. A lot of the humor has faded as badly as the color, and a lot of the themes seem as dated as the hair-dos. That's NOT the case with Cabaret. It was a great film when I saw it first in 1972, it was better last night when I watched it again after 38 years, and I'm glad I bought it because I predict it will still be great when I play it for my grandchildren a few decades from now.
The main character of Cabaret isn't the young Englishman Brian, played so very sensitively by Michael York, or the self-hating starlet Sally Bowles, performed so effortlessly by Liza Minelli. No, the soul of this story is a Time and a Place --Berlin in 1931-- at the very moment when fanatical anti-semitic nationalism was poised to pounce on Europe just as Sally pounces on Brian, and as she advises Brian's fortune-hunting tutee to pounce on the virginal heiress on her own couch. The hatred, desperation, and violence that fostered Nazism in the late 1920's is portrayed almost subliminally, as fragments of a context the clients of the Kit Kat Club pretend not to note. But the fervor and triumphalism of the Nazi movement is revealed also, especially in the semi-plausible beer garden scene, in which an angel-faced German lad sings "Tomorrow belongs to me" and the entire crowd joins the chorus. That scene is the climax of the film, and it's a master stroke of irony, considering what "we" know retropectively about Germany's "tomorrow."
And there's Joel Grey, the "Master of Ceremonies" at the Kit Kat Club. He's the face and fanny of Berlin in 1931, all brilliant Kitsch and smirking decadence. Without Joel Grey, the film would be another romantic melodrama. With him, it's virtually a documentary of historical tragedy.
Much of the credit appropriately goes to director/choreographer Bob Fosse, Oscar winner in 1972, and to John van Druten, the playwright who made something profound from the slim material of Chistopker Isherwood's Berlin stories. And my gratitude appropriately goes to my "amazon friends" whose reviews stimlated me to rewatch this classic."
It's a jungle
H. Schneider | window seat | 06/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't like musicals. Luckily this isn't one: it is a film about stage performers and has some of the acts. Not a musical, but great entertainment.
Nearly 40 years after, a revisit, and guess what: this piece of show business hasn't aged at all. I had to talk my daughter into watching it with me. She gave in grudgingly and then she was delighted, mainly with Joel Grey as the MC in the sleezy cabaret club in Berlin 1931. Sarah didn't quite agree with the Oscar for Liza Minelli, because Liza's acting is not really on the level of her singing.
A young Englishman (it is based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Tales), who thinks that he is gay (which is possibly a travesty of the book, which I have not read yet, but plan to), comes to Berlin in the early 30s and meets this American cabaret singer, who teaches him to be more versatile in his tastes. These are the years of street battles between Nazis and Communists. Much of 'central Germany' is deluded and thinks the Nazis can be used to get rid of the Reds and then they can be controlled. We know that this did not work as planned. Berlin's cultural life was as wild then as it is now. Predictably the Nazis were going to put an iron heel on perversions like this delightful place.
Entirely pleasing, still, after all these years! There is only one 'false' scene, and that is the Landgasthaus scene where the Englishman (Michael York) and the German Baron (Helmut Griem), who has turned the couple into prostitutes before they understood what happened to them, watch a Nazi Liedershow, starting with a pretty young blond man singing a patriotic song and then the whole audience in the place coming up with a brillant fascist choir performance. That is at the same time 'wrong' in the sense of unrealistic, but also right, because it gives an eery forecast of things to come."