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Customer Review

113 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is a cabaret, old chum..., January 7, 2003
This review is from: Cabaret (Special Edition) (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 7, 2013 9:26:23 PM PST
As much as I enjoy this movie (and Liza Minelli, Joel Grey, and Michael York are superb), I have always felt that the screenwriters made a few serious mistakes. As you mentioned, a lot of songs were removed, and the storyline was altered from the original, and this was a serious mistake. Important characters were minimized or removed completely, and two new characters were created from a mashup of three characters from the stage show, but without the charm or sweetness. For example, the character of Fritz Wendel was mostly based on a friend of Brian's (Michael York) who eventually reveals himself to be a Nazi. Likewise, the pretty young Jewish hieress was originally a gentle, middle-aged Jewish greengrocer who was planning to marry Brian and Sally's landlady. Their story was tender and heartbreaking, and should have been left in the movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2013 4:19:04 PM PST
wasiswasn't says:
@ Duval: Clearly you are not familiar with the source material for Cabaret. Sometime you should watch "I Am A Camera" which is the original play adapted from "The Berlin Stories" It's not available on disc, but it can be viewed on YouTube. The characters of Fritz and Natalia were in the original play - the landlady and the Jewish grocer were not.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2013 10:32:45 PM PST
I would love to see it sometime, but the characters I was referring to were the ones in the original musical Cabaret. I read The Berlin Stories many years ago, and I did enjoy them, but that was long ago and I don't remember everything. I will check out YouTube for I Am A Camera. Thanks for the tips.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2014 10:16:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2014 10:24:37 PM PDT
If Fosse had made a film version of Cabaret that was closer to the Broadway production, and not a cinematic rethink, we would not have a film classic. I saw the original show too, and when I first saw the film i was disappointed so much had been altered. But rewatching this truely great film again and again over the years, I have changed my mind completely. This screenplay is actually closer to the original stories. What Fosse did, after the commercial disaster of Sweet Charity, was to make a musical that is timeless. So he did the right thing. He reshaped it, learned his lesson from the excesses of Charity, and made a film that non-musical lovers loved too. I Am A Camera, is a bit of a chore by the way, but it's interesting to watch as a comparison. Isherwood loved this film by the way, and seriously disliked the Broadway show. But thanks to the show which I also loved, we've got this.
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