Cats: The Musical (Commemorative Edition)
Special Edition, Commemorative Edition
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"Cats" opened at The Winter Garden on October 7, 1982, carrying an advance of $6.2 million, the largest in Broadway history. In 1997 it surpassed "A Chorus Line" as the longest running show in Broadway history. On September 10, 2000, after 7,485 shows and a run of nearly 18 years, the show closed - a Broadway record. For the first time ever, an Andrew Lloyd Webber show has been specially filmed and made available on video. With a star cast including Elaine Paige and Sir John Mills, and its stunning production values, Cats will no doubt set a new standard for the filming of all future musicals. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, the most famous musical of all time, first exploded onto the West End stage in 1981. 'Memory', one of its many classic songs, became an instant worldwide hit. Since then Cats has smashed records and conquered the world. Using the latest technology, all the excitement, thrill, romance and intimacy of this theatrical legend has been captured on screen. Breathtaking visuals and full digital sound (that has been completely re-recorded with a seventy piece orchestra) will lead you deep into the mysterious world of Cats. Cats - as you'll never see it again - more intoxicating and magical than you could possibly imagine.
The 30-minute documentary "What's a Jellicle Cat? The Making of Cats the Video" provides a backstage look at the video version of the longest-running show in Broadway history. After a brief discussion of the original show's start in 1981, the bulk of the time is spent on the creation of the video and the advantages it had over a stage production--a larger orchestra, clearer lyrics, and close-ups for better story-telling. There's plenty of rehearsal footage, plus comments by Lloyd Webber, director-choreographer Gillian Lynne, Elaine Paige (Grizabella), and other cast members. Of course "Memory" is discussed, and an excerpt of it played by the orchestra without vocals is positively gorgeous. --David Horiuchi
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Blue Ray: Not digitally remastered, but as good as my VHS copy. The wide screen fits our TV and isn't in a black box. (Photo is of DVD version). I like the blue ray better than the DVD. It isn't as grainy and doesn't have the weird box around the picture.
It started on a confusing soundtrack selection screen with a very fuzzy background picture of the Victoria cat and then went straight to the regular screen movie completely skipping the menu selection screen, which only showed up after the movie. I did check and there was no widescreen option at all.
Some of the scenes were so badly copied it was painful to watch, but I stuck with it all the way through the final credits, to the bitter end. It was like watching a badly made YouTube video. A very generous estimate is that only about 25% of the movie had a clear, sharp picture, 50% was hazy, and 25% was so badly hazy it was difficult to force myself to keep watching.
What made it even worse was that, in some scenes where the camera switches from one person to another part of the stage, it would go from an extremely hazy picture to a very clear picture (or vice versa) several times like that, making it very disorientating.
I'm very disappointed in this purchase. It was meant to be a replacement for my original Cats dvd that was lost in a move. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, I don't think it's worth returning, and I would be embarrassed to even give away this badly made copy.
I was really excited when I found this DVD version and bought it right away. However, I was a little disappointed with it at the same time.
It's ironic that the quality of my VHS version is better than this DVD. There is a slight film on the DVD version that make is appear grainier. I'm mainly happy that I can at least watch it on DVD, but it's disappointing when the DVD cover says it's a "commemorative edition," but the quality doesn't appear to have been enhanced. At least the sound quality is still the same.
Now comes a strange part. The back of the DVD tells you about the behind-the-scenes feature, but no where does it tell you the addition to Skimbleshanks' song. I was greatly surprised as I was watching it when an extra 30 seconds or so was included in the middle of his song. I had never seen this addition in the VHS version. It's great that this has been included, but personally I didn't like the addition because it was so different from what I had grown up with. This appeared to be the only difference between the VHS and DVD versions in regards to the musical itself.
So, even though the copy is not as perfect as I would have hoped it to be, I'm happy to at least have a version of it to own.
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