With the conclusion of the academic semester, I hardly had time to sleep let alone watch movies. I spent the past month using my Netflix subscription to watch random films for my film class and to grab the occasional television episode. Now that graduation is behind me, I’m looking forward to finding my place in the real world. Until then, I’m certainly catching up with my queue!
A few weeks back, I went to my former high school’s production of Evita. Having been quite removed from the high school musical scene, I was impressed with overall production and the drama that unfolded on stage. Knowing that there was a film adaptation of the same show with a notable cast, I rented 1996’s Evita and watched the movie with mixed feelings.
Briefly, Evita plays almost as an opera with non stop musical moments. The plot tells the story of Argentina’s political leader Eva Peron: her rise to fame, her relationship with the Argentinian president Juan Peron, her influence in politics and her death. Knowing next to nothing about history, I have no idea how accurate this storyline was, but it was fascinating to see Evita’s seemingly effortless transition from a nobody to the spiritual leader of the people. Just watching the costume changes was stunning. The character brings you along for the ride much like the real Evita did for the people of Argentina – to an extent.
I’m sure many of you can sing along to the famous muscial number “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”. Here it is posted below so you can belt your little heart out as you read the rest of the post.
In the film adaptation, Evita is played by the iconic performer Madonna. Great casting really because both of these women have had monumental impact on their respective publics. I feel that she did a wonderful job of becoming this character and as a performer herself, I felt that she nailed it. The other major film star in Evita is Antonio Banderas. His singing is awkward, but Mr. Banderas is certainly easy on the eyes. His character, a revolutionist Che, comes across more as an angry narrator and not the strong powerhouse that I saw in the stage version. His character seems awkward and left something to be desired.
I think collectively the film version lacks the power of the stage version. Although I love movies and frequently use them as escape, when it boils down to it, I’m still a theater snob. I think characters are more rich and emotions are more real when you are siting in a theater with an audience and twenty feet away from the action. The film adaptation can (and did) establish the scenes better because movies are not limited to standard theater conventions. However, I think the movie missed an opportunity to reflect the rich color palate of South America and instead reflected a very professional, darker look. This was suitable for the serious nature of the political environment, but made the overall film kind of dull. One thing that did impress me with the film adaptation was the treatment of the chorus member parts. The off camera wails of the Argentinian people had a haunting effect that served the film well.
Although the movie was interesting and true to the Broadway production, my money still is on the stage version. The film just lacked the movement and expression of live theater. Read more about Evita here at the Internet Movie Database.