on November 10, 2004
I just purchased this DVD and I remembered instantly why I enjoyed this film so much when it came out. I would just like to answer some of the critiques listed here.
1) The character of Ché was always meant to be a nemesis to Evita, but not the real character as such . In the stage production that I saw, it was a man with the typical beret and machine gun singing to the side of the action. It would have been ridiculous and historically inaccurate to portray Ché as such in the movie version. Ché Guevara was still a medical student when Eva died. I think it is very effective to blend Ché into various characters because it represents the silent and not so silent opposition to the Perón Revolution. The only time the two characters meet for real interaction is when Evita is having delusions. The song argued in that moment perfectly clashes Ché's "idealism" with Evita's "realism." Ché is always there in some form, yet Evita is oblivious to his presence, brushes him off with a quick lyric or purposely chooses to ignore him. This adds a metaphysical dimension to the plot as if Evita were increasingly self-justifying her growing power as a simple tool to help the impoverished.
2) The soundtrack to the movie is not an operatic stage version but the songs are presented using the operatic techniques of repetition. This was done on purpose, not due to a lack of creativity.
3) When I saw this off off broadway, the people that were with me were straining to understand the singing beside the fact that they had no idea about the history of post WWII Argentina. I don't think they enjoyed it as much as they wanted to let on.
4) Madonna sings very well and is completely understood. I had the argument with some friends that heard the soundtrack and thought she was singing off key on the last couple of tracks... Ummm. Not really. She was about ready to pass away in those scenes which in the movie are close-ups. It would have been ridiculous to have anyone belt out the lyrics in such an intimate moment before passing on. It sounds like she is dying, because she is...
5) The cinematography is simply amazing. The funeral scene at the very beginning was incredible as well as the scene where Eva puts her foundation to work. Pictures of the real Evita meeting the Pope and others perfectly match the costumes used in the movie.
6) For me, the main focus of the movie is the strategy of propaganda and how it can dominate reason. The mystery lies in how much of the persuasion was authentically from the heart of the Peróns and how much of it was naked manipulation. The movie captures both aspects and yet leaves them unanswered...Much like the historical analysis of Eva Perón.
This movie is an awesome production ...
Worth noting that Evita is wall-to-wall music with virtually no spoken lines: not an opera so much as an extended music video, so the pop-music motifs need not be an anachronism.
I'm not a fan of Madonna, I find Andrew Lloyd Webber's music a bit obvious .. and yet -- and yet. Here everything seems to come together. It's a visually gorgeous film, the added songs (The Lady's Got Potential, You Must Love Me) are strong enhancements. The Che character's change from Che Guevara in the stage version to an Argentine Everyman here (desk clerk, bartender, cabinet minister, union activist) is an improvement over the stage musical and Antonio Banderas is a smoldering presence who carries the movie. Jimmy Nail is perfect as the oily tango singer; Jonathan Pryce capable in an equally slick role as the would-be, but hesitant, dictator. The montage songs are splendid, like Goodnight and Thank You, that bucket-brigade sequence of Eva's lovers that she uses (and the film uses) to get her from the street to the Casa Rosada, or like A New Argentina, in which Eva takes Juan from jail to the presidency. The faux-English country house lawn where Eva faces down upper-class disdain (Peron's Latest Flame, The Actress Hasn't Learned the Lines You Like to Hear) is another brilliant staging. It all rings true, visually.
I've had others tell me the lyrics seemed shallow. "Don't cry for me, Argentina, and don't forget to get milk and bread at the store ... " Well, yes. That's the point. She didn't say much more than that. Banality often suffices in public life; politics are shtick in a media age; actors can leverage elections. The lady couldn't act but she could, as others have said, seduce a nation. She won't be the last actor to do so.
Recommend owning the DVD for the cinematic values at the very least. It's a dark vision of public affairs but the times probably affirm it. And it was the best role of Eva's lifetime. And Madonna's.
on January 28, 2000
Boy do people miss the point on this movie. You can't present a movie like a broadway show. Everytime this has been attemped, historically, the results are bad, most adaptions of famous shows are only OK at best, some are awful. The medium is totally different, the demands are different, the singing is different, the acting style is different. Yes, the shows usually are "better", in a sense, that's how it was originally written, as a stage play. You have got to really change things to make a successful movie.
So how good an ADAPTION is this? Very good indeed. The story was changed to very effectively fit the medium. Madonna stretched herself unbelievably to do this role, and I think she did very well. You may quite validly prefer the stage version of Evita (I like both), but its almost like apples and oranges. As good as Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin were, they would, if they played it the same way anyway, come off mannered and absurd in a movie context. All the conventions of the stage would be laughable. (unless it was simply, of course, an actual filmed stage production). On the other hand, Madonna and Banderas are not nearly strong and polished enough for a stage. Most of the changes (a few I don't understand), make a lot of sense, when you consider how a movie has to flow.
As for this movie not being deep or historical, its a musical for Pete's sake, not "Saving Private Ryan." I don't know enough about Eva Peron to really say, but I don't see how you could present a real historical drama in a musical context. I think the problem is people don't like or understand opera, which this essentially is. Most of the great operas have ludicrous story lines! Also if you are going to go in knowing you "hate" musicals, "hate" Madonna, then fine, this is not to your taste. Banderas is not a polished singer, but his rough edged singing is very appealing and effective in this context.
The cinematography, costumes are outstanding, and serve the story well. Only as the dying Evita, do I find Madonna not very believable. I think Evita is thrilling, its one of my favorite movies of recent years.
I love the show Evita, and I love this too, but in a very different way.
on June 11, 1999
At first I would like to say though Madonna did not deserve to win the Oscar for Best Actress she did deserve to be nominated for a wonderful portrayal of Evita Peron. Madonna showed she could act, sing, dance and cry and be believable. Not all actors or singers have this talent. The most touching scenes were Madonna last scene of singing "Dont Cry For Me Argentina" to the crowd and her death scene in bed....I forgot I was watching Madonna. For a celebrity of her caliber to make you forget who she is takes real acting, and trust me when I went to see this movie originally I was ready to tear it apart. The first time I saw it I watched it very critically for every mistake, the 2nd time I watched it was to just enjoy its breath taking beauty. Banderas who I have never really liked as a performer was wonderfully casted, and surprised me with his voice. Though not a perfect picture, "Evita" showed it could carry itself quite well, and I am just glad Madonna got some payback for her talent by winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress. Madonna may be criticized by most of her peers, but she is a very hard worker, with outstanding talent as a music performer and as well as an actor. A perfectionist to say the least. She has worked very hard for where she is at now...and it shows especially in her music and her voice...but she has got the best reward - her daughter. "Evita" is a definite watch, and how this movie did not get nominated for "Best Costume" beats me.
on March 17, 2005
This is not the film for someone who detests musicals. It is what's known as a rock opera with very little dialogue in the entire plot (and most of the dialogue is speeches made by Eva or Juan). Also, as a first time viewer, one may get somewhat confused over what exactly is going on, such as the scene where Eva is asking Magaldi to take her to Buenos Aires. However as one watches it a second or third time they begin to pick up personality traits of Eva and even more details of her story.
Antonio Banderas' performance as Che Guervare was magnificant though upstaged by Madonna the majority of the time, prevelant in the scene "Waltz for Eva and Che" and in "Goodnight and Thank You" The other principle vocalists were great such as Jimmy Nail (Augustin Magaldi) and Johnathan Pryce (Peron). The differential in voices for each of this characters makes the viewer want to listen and get lost in what they're saying.
Madonna, managed to be serious in her role, which is different from the roles that she usually plays. She looked decent in costumes, compared to what she usually wears, and had the diva attitude that made Evita jump off the screen and into the homes of the viewers. There is a slight irony that comes from Madonna playing Eva in that Eva was a love/hate persona much like Madonna of the current generation.
Everytime the DVD is watch there is more to be gained. (Oh and if you study Spanish you can pick up vocabulary by putting the Spanish subtitles on.) It never gets old.
on November 4, 1999
I saw this movie when it first came out and loved it, and just saw it again on video. This is one of the most under-rated films of the decade. Hollywood just doesn't like Madonna, which resulted in this wonderfully-acted film being unfairly snubbed by critics and the Oscar establishment. Despite the presence of half the population of Argentina as extras, this is essentially an intimate story that rides on the performances of the three principals--Evita, Peron, and Che. Although Madonna's voice isn't quite up to some of the vocal challenges, her performance is otherwise on the mark. Antonio Banderas surprised me--his somewhat gritty vocal quality is totally appropriate to his character as a peasant revolutionary. Nobody smolders better. His feelings for Evita were intriguingly ambiguous; it was fascinating to watch him veer from hope to contempt to something close to sexual attraction. And Jonathan Pryce is one of the premier musical theater artists of this era. What he does with the rather underwritten part of Peron is a joy to see. Watch his performance of "She is a Diamond"--two minutes of subtle, superb acting with voice, face, body--absolutely wonderful. It seems that most of the naysayers saw the show on Broadway and find the movie a poor comparison. Each should be taken on their own terms. Patti LuPone is undoubtedly stronger vocally than Madonna, but you have to give the latter credit for taking on a huge challenge and (mostly) pulling it off. And I never thought Mandy Patinkin's light tenor was right for Che--Banderas, though not half the singer Patinkin is, has an earthy vocal quality that works better in this role. I recommend this movie highly for all lovers of musical theater.
on September 11, 2004
I was so surprised when I saw so many bad reviews for this movie. When I saw it for the first time, I fell in love with it! The story is amazing and the casting was perfect!
Madonna did an amazing job as Eva Duarte de Peron. She had her powerful moments when she showed great strength, but her moments of vulnerability and weakness too. Her singing was great, thought some say it wasn't powerful enough. Ok, singing novices let me tell you something. You don't belt ballads. "You Must Love Me", "Don't Cry For Me Argentina", and "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" were supposed to be softer. She did not have a weak voice, she merely used softer dynamics to create a smoother more melancholy tone. It worked beautifully.
Now, my favorite character, CHE! I absolutely loved Anotonio Banderas in his role as Che! He was so wonderfully sarcastic and cynical. Not to mention funny. I could never see anyone else as Che. And who knew that Antonio could sing?! His voice is beautiful and it makes me wonder why he never went for a singing career. I mean, he has talent. Why is it always the talented singers (like him) don't record and the whiny-untalented-squeaky-immature ones (like Hilary Duff, who has no talent) who do? So messed up. Anyway, Antonio Banderas personified Che wonderfully. He did great with balancing his feelings for Evita. At the beginning he supports her and is behind her all the way, towards the middle he begins to doubt and criticize, by the waltz he hates her, but it turns around when he sees she's dying. Antonio was the best during "Lament". When he sings and kisses her coffin afterwards it shows that despite what many thought, he didn't hate her in the end, but loved her instead. He did a fabulous job in this movie.
Peron's character could've been better. I mean, Antonio and Madonna had all this chemistry (especially in "Waltz for Eva and Che) and him and Madonna had none at all. He was supposed to be her husband. Maybe it was because he looked so old, but he could've been casted better.
Overall it is the best movie! ^_^ Go see it if you haven't!
on November 2, 2000
I never saw the stage version of Evita. I did listen to the Broadway CD and couldn't get hooked until I saw the movie. And what a movie.
Madonna gives a fine performance in this role, and I honestly can't think on an actress out there that could have given a better performance as Evita. I think Alan Parker intentionally took advantage of Madonna's experience in music video to make the movie version of Evita as fast paced as a music video album - and it works remarkably well. No, it isn't the stage version. This movie stands on its own. Yeah, Madonna is emotionally distant, but she was obviously playing up the real character's narcissistic qualities to the hilt. I think the emotional distance let's you understand how corrupt and manipulative the Peron's really were. You are fascinated by Evita and admire her drive, but see a balanced picture of her - not a saint by any means.
Besides the great photography and editing, the sound of the DVD version of this film is something worth going out and buying a surround sound system for. The songs have never sounded better, the orchestra is wonderful, and there are moments in the soundtrack that make your hair stand up on edge.
Parker slowly builds up to the famous balcony scene where Evita sings "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." I have never really liked that song, but Parker and Madonna put it in a context where you almost want to stand up and cheer. Suspend disbelief is an understatement. Parker gets the audience caught up in the spirit of revolution, of Argentina, and of the masses. I haven't experienced anything like that since seeing a live performance of Les Miserables.
My only criticism of the movie would be that Parker failed to take advantage of putting any real dance sequences in the film. Most significant was the Buenos Aires sequence where we see Madonna riding a train when she should have been dancing her brains out.
Madonna helped mix the soundtrack - she should have won on Oscar or Grammy for that alone. The big surprise was how well Anthony Banderos sang as Che. His voice stands up to any singer on Broadway. Jonathan Pryce give a fine performance as Juan Perron. There are no real special features to speak of, which is a real disappointment. But I can give this five stars with a clear conscience because of the fine performances, the stunning widescreen presentation, the quality of the video, and great mix of the soundtrack. This is the best screen version of any of Andrew Lloyd Weber's work to date.
One of the interesting sidelights to this movie is the fact that Oliver Stone wrote part of the screenplay. While watching it I kept wondering what part? Stone, whose edgy, over the top indictments of oppression, corruption and especially military stupidity, wouldn't seem to be one to celebrate the elevation of Eva Peron to something close to sainthood, which is what this movie does. Maybe all his work ended up on the cutting room floor. Or maybe it was obscured by Andrew Lloyd Webber's music. Certainly we do not see the decamisados (Peron's version of his friend Mussolini's Blackshirts) torturing anyone, and although the "disappeared" are mentioned in passing, there is no retrospective that allows us to see just how widespread and horrific were the murders committed by the Peronists.
Anyway, Madonna, who certainly fits the part like a glove, stars as Evita, and she gives the performance of her life. Yet somehow it is unconvincing, or I should say, somehow the film doesn't really get to the essence of the woman who rose from poverty to the pinnacle of power in Argentina, a woman extravagantly loved by the common people of Argentina even while she was a party to the fascist oppression. I don't think this is Madonna's fault. Her voice is good, not great, of course, but her dramatic skills are very much in evidence, skills that have always been underrated, although I'm not sure why. If you watch her in this and in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) you can see that she has a range easily exceeding that of most actresses. I think that ironically it is the very quality of common origin and common appeal that the Argentines so loved in Evita that the critics hold against Madonna.
Antonio Banderas plays Che, who narrates and attempts to objectify the events while symbolizing both Evita's alter-ego and the man who would really be her proper mate were it not for her rapacious political appetite. Che's character and his dramatic role (from the play by Tim Rice) is perhaps the most important artistic achievement of the musical after Webber's beautiful and inspiring music. Banderas is winning and enormously vivid in the part, and he sings well and expressively.
Jonathan Pryce plays Peron with more dignity and humanity than history might allow. His sensitivity as an actor combined with a modest demeanor seemed to me so unrealistic as to be almost a miscasting. Yet he is perhaps as compelling as anyone on the screen and he certainly looked the part. Interesting is Jimmy Nail as the cabaret singer Magaldi. He combines sleazy good looks with a kind of vulnerable persona that seems exactly right.
Well, what can be said about the music except that it is one of Webber's great triumphs and so very typical of his work. It is beautiful, stirring, moving, enchanting and memorable. Who can forget the haunting, plaintive refrain of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" or the gorgeous simplicity of "You Must Love Me"? While Madonna's voice would not fill up a concert hall or take her by itself to the Broadway stage, she does an outstanding job with Webber's songs. A natural performer (Madonna's key talent), her expressive interpretations range from the ordinary to the transfixing. I very much enjoyed her efforts and predict that critics in the future will be kinder to her than today's critics.
The ending seemed too drawn out and then when the screen faded to black and the credits began to run it seemed almost abrupt and without resolution. I also did not like the way that Madonna (38 at the time) seemed no younger in the earlier scenes with her hair dyed pitch black. I think director Alan Parker should have given us more of an illusion of youth, perhaps spared her some of the closeups and fuzzed out the lines under her eyes. Strange how the golden blonde hair and exquisitely applied makeup in the remainder of the film made her look younger. All directors should know what Madonna learned many years ago: blonde hair usually makes a woman look younger because those with naturally light-colored hair are their blondest as children. Like big eyes and relatively big heads, blonde hair is a signal of youth that arrests our eyes.
Despite the flaws this is an engrossing cinematic experience, and for Madonna fans, Banderas fans, and in particular fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber, it is a film not to be missed.
on April 14, 2007
This masterpiece of film-making needs re-evaluation since in hindsight it can be seen for the superb and masterful work of art and entertainment that it is. I have now seen the film three times and each time I am amazed that this film has not been recognized widely for its considerable attributes.
How does a director convey the oppressive nature of Fascism in a musical? Alan Parker succeeds wonderfully through his use of a muted brown, beige, black, and vanilla color range. He does it through the wonderful photography of riots, poverty, wealth, militarism, and the signs and symbols of power. The cinematography in this film is great. The art direction is super. The editing is perfect. It is a mystery to me why this film wasn't more appreciated by the public.
I think one reason is that folks don't know history and understand the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Argentina in the 1930s and 1940s. Peron's brand of fascism was threatening to the oligarchy in Argentina that had ruled a nation of farmers and cowboys and peasants. Thus there is no clear picture of good guys and bad guys in the film. At times Eva's appeals to the poor and underserved, the establishment of her foundation, and her ability to communicate with the masses puts her in the role of saint. However, the extortion of the rich to pay for her charities and thus maintain the popularity of Peron is a shrewed political power play.
Madonna is super in this film. Her acting is not naturalistic because she is playing an over-the-top diva and saint. It is Antonio Banderas who gives us a running commentary thorughout the film that continually grounds the viewer in the facts and the actions in this opera.
One last comment: there are very few songs that have the power of Webber and Rice's Don't Cry for Me Argentina. Madonna's performance is spotless when she sings this from her balcony to the crowd below.