Quick Recap: The movie follows Sally Bowles, an American, and Brian Roberts, an Englishman, as they navigate their way through Berlin in the 1930s. Bowles is a singer at the local Kit Kat club, while Roberts is working on his doctorate in philosophy while tutoring students in English. The two become friends and later lovers. While their affair is going on, the Nazi party is beginning its rise in Germany and by the end of the film has completely taken over Berlin.
Fun (?) Fact: If you are looking for a film version of the stage musical, this ain’t it. Cliff Bradshaw on the stage is now Brian Roberts. Sally Bowles is American instead of British and most of the songs have been cut while others have been added in.
My thoughts: Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way before I start this review: The only association I have of Liza Minnelli and pop culture is this:
Whew. I feel better now. So anyway, I saw the stage version of ‘Cabaret’ a few years ago and quite enjoyed it so I figured this would be the same but better. The fact that the film version was so different from the stage version took me awhile to pick up on. I just thought that maybe I had slept through the whole thing or just completely missed the point. The themes are the same though.
As someone who doesn’t always enjoy ‘sing talking’, I like the director’s idea to put all musical numbers inside the Kit Kat club and to have them complement the plot that is going on outside.Those scenes were my favorite, especially seeing the rise of the Nazi party in the club. At the beginning of the film, members of the Nazi Party are kicked out but by the end they make up the majority of patrons. It was such a striking way to tell that part of the story.
Liza Minnelli is brilliant in her role as Sally Bowles. She plays the perfect mix of broken, optimistic, captivating girl. I spent the entire movie going back and forth between feeling sorry for her and loving her unique style.
The issue I had with the movie was how hard everyone tried to drive the point that pre war Germany is BAD. It’s a place where people cheat on each other, have abortions and go to a seedy nightclub where anything can happen. So it’s no wonder the Nazi Party has risen to power in all this mess. In reality, it was much more complicated than that. The same goes for the subplot of Fritz and Natalia. It was like someone said, ‘Hey! We are making a film about pre-war Berlin! Where are the Jews? The audience is going to get really confused if we don’t throw in some Jews!’ And so they did.
The most powerful scene in the movie is at the beer garden as the young boy stands up and starts to sing a German national song. He begins the song as a loving tribute to his country and then people start standing up and singing along. At the end of the number, everyone is angry and the song has become a sort of marching song for the Nazi Party.
Final review: 3/5. I loved the musical numbers at the Kit Kat club and loved Liza Minnelli’s performance. I can see why it is considered a great film, but I wouldn’t want to sit through it again.
Where/how I watched it: Netflix DVD while I enjoyed a St. Arnold Icon. It is not my favorite hefeweizen but it was good.
Up next: Still waiting on Psycho. Until then, I’ll watch ‘It Happened One Night’