Thursday, July 2, 2009

Evita.

Evita (1996) is one of those rare masterpieces that takes a while to sink in. The musical adaptation follows the life of Eva Duarte, an illegitimate child drawn to fame and fortune - who leaves no stone unturned to ensure that hers is a 'rags-to-riches' story to remember, and she eventually becomes wife to Juan Peron, President and dictator of Argentina. Her charisma and glamour wins the people over, but it's left to the viewer to realise that her life is a sham, and her marriage one of mutual benefit.

I have always liked musicals, and if you give me a Lloyd Webber one - well, all the better! Full credit for Evita's music goes to him, but especially more so because his music somehow never gets monotonous. Each musical's tones are different from the last. For instance, while Jesus Christ Superstar has a new-age-rock sound to it, Cats has more of the typical classical twang. Evita, on the other hand, is slightly jazzy, dramatically Latina, and fiery in parts - the music plays a vital part, in a movie where there is precious little dialogue.

The songs are without a doubt, absolutely great - and I must say that the lyrics are very strong - credit for that goes to Tim Rice. In fact, this is one of Rice and Lloyd Webber's many collaborations. Watch out for songs like "Another Suitcase In Another Hall", "The Money Kept Rolling In", "High Flying, Adored" - those three being my personal favourites. Evita is different from other Lloyd Webber musical adaptations I've seen in the sense that it's not as stylised. There are not many elaborate dance sequences, the costumes aren't overtly theatrical - instead, Evita has somewhat simple sets, but the choreography makes its presence known in other forms - like the scenes of the singing of the butchers and the marching of the soldiers.

There is no doubt that Madonna's singing is great, but perhaps she was a little too old for the depiction of a 26 year-old. But that apart, she does full justice to the role of Eva Peron, and depicts her as a woman bent on making it to the top, at whatever cost. On the one hand, you sympathise with her hard-luck story and you grow enthusiastic as she makes her way to success, but on the other, you wrinkle your nose in distaste as you realise that this woman has hidden agendas. Kudos to Madonna for portraying a flawed woman perfectly. She is a screen presence to reckon with.

Antonio Banderas, as Che, completely blew me away! Who knew he could sing? Who knew he could dance? He is the high-point of the movie, both dramatically and musically - and complements Madonna perfectly. I've always thought that he was mere eye candy, but now I realise I'm wrong. Che was a difficult part to play, but Banderas manages perfectly - his part as the Narrator left me stunned. Jonathan Pryce, as Peron, was good too - another brilliant voice, great facial expressions, especially in the song "You Must Love Me". A pity he didn't have more singing to do.


Evita
is a political musical that leaves a lasting impression. I've always been a big fan of Lloyd Webber's work, and Evita now joins the list of Cats, The Phantom Of The Opera, and Jesus Christ Superstar as another favourite. It remains with you for its catchy music, its splendid direction and mindblowing lyrics, its period look of 1940's Argentina, and its stunning scenes of Eva's funeral and political instability. And you know what else? Right now, I'm humming "High Flying, Adored" as I'm typing this.


Watch Evita. Take my word for it - it's a movie worth watching, not just for the stars' names, but for the depiction of a true story that leaves you rather moved. And if you appreciate Lloyd Webber's music, all the better for you!

2 comments:

"Bodhisatwa" said...

thank me for giving it to you!

Magically Bored said...

@ Guppy: Yeah, like I would never have watched it otherwise. :P