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Life is a Cabaret

It wasn't entirely that long ago that I sat down with my sister and channel hopped, looking aimlessly through what was on TV. It was there we came across the film Cabaret. I had heard of this film, yes, and admittedly I did get a little mixed up between it and Chicago but upon watching it I was absolutely fascinated.

I'm not really one for 'analysing' films but having just come out of watching the televised 1993 version, directed by Sam Mendes (starring: Alan Cumming as Emcee, Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles and Adam Godley as Cliff) I cannot help but look at the differences between it and the 1972 film directed by Bob Fosse (starring: Joel Grey as Emcee, Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles and Michael York as Brian). Saying that this is not a comparison! I'm not going to say 'this' is better than 'that' because they are both bloody marvelous. What I am going to do is say what I preferred.

The story of Cabaret is shocking, thought-provoking and just... wow. Upon my first viewing I was left a little star-struck and after finished seeing the broadway version just now I'm still in awe; the downright cleverness of this show is mind-blowing. It is even more intriguing to know that it is all based on The Berlin Novels, non-fictional accounts of Christopher Isherwood's visit to Berlin during the rise of Hitler - even if they were not based on that the controversy of the matters at hand in this show are very cleverly handled.

Cumming as Emcee
I do prefer Alan Cumming's portrayal of Emcee (aka Master of Ceremonies) - he has a wonderful balance of childish mischief and an almost demonic look about him. He also shows the Emcee as more sexual, which I think is rather key to the character. That's not saying that Joel Grey isn't bloody brilliant; his slightly more doll-like Emcee is perhaps more appealing and more subtly cunning that Cumming's. As well as this Mendes has his as an omnipotent presence throughout the show (which is obviously easier in a stage production than a film since it makes more sense) which add a very sly and manipulative side to Cumming's portrayal. If we look directly at the two performances of "Two Ladies", Cumming is much more grotesque and sexual, whereas Grey adds are more innocent and playful aspect to the song whilst still being rather frightening and sly. Both, as I'm sure any actor in the role of the Emcee, portray him to be a manipulative and extremely enigmatic character.

Sally Bowles is a rather interesting character to look at; she's portrayed very differently in the '72 and '93 versions - in the former she is much more of a talented and likable character (I stress character here, not actress!) whereas Horrocks shows her to be much more pretentious and big-headed. I didn't like Sally in the '93 version but her character grew on me and I actually really enjoyed Horrocks's portrayal very much.

The endings of both the versions are powerful (I won't say too much on this matter); I find that my breath is taken away from the fear it creates, both directors choosing to make powerful statements.

All I can really say is go and buy the Cabaret (1972) DVD or watch the televised version on youtube and enjoy the marvel that is Cabaret.

(P.S. My brain is a little dead so I apologise for any incoherentness or lack of detail and what not.)


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