1996; Rated PG; 134 Minutes
Madonna: Eva Peron
Antonio Banderas: Che
Jonathan Pryce: Juan Peron
Jimmy Nail: Agustin Magaldi
Victoria Sus: Dona Juana
Produced by Lisa
Moran, Alan Parker, Robert Stigwood, Andrew G. Vajna and
David Wimbury; Directed by Alan Parker; Screenwritten
by Alan Parker and Oliver Stone
by DAVID KEYES
Leonardo DiCaprio stood on the deck of the remodel of Titanic
in 1997, he proclaimed himself "the king of the world."
How ironic for a person like him, since, before starring
in James Cameron's epic in 1997, his career went pretty
much unnoticed. But there he was, graciously, aboard that
legendary ocean-liner, sailing to 'the new world,' happier
and stronger than any performance that came before. As Jack
Dawson, he received overwhelming recognition from peers,
movie-watchers, and critics all over the world. By the time
"Titanic" had already made an imprint at the box office,
there were predictions that DiCaprio would be nominated
for an Academy Award.
bad he wasn't. America's teen heartthrob, and as I like
to call him, "young blue eyes," wasn't even in the final
consideration for a nomination. The Academy's decision to
shut him out prompted a large of heap negative remarks towards
the Academy, some of which were the most scathing since
Barbara Streisand was neglected on Oscar nominations in
1991 for "The Prince Of Tides." Heck, one critic even went
as far as exclaiming "not nominating DiCaprio for 'Titanic'
is like not nominating Clark Gable for 'Gone With The Wind.'"
This is the Academy Awards, though--half the people in great
movies are shut out from nominations because, like all of
us, the Academy members have their own opinions and values.
At least "Titanic" still earned 11 Academy Awards on Oscar
isn't alone. At the end of 1996, Hollywood's "kings of the
world" were Alan Parker and Madonna, the two energetic forces
of power that dazzled the screen when the brought us the
film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical, "Evita."
Considering that it is hailed as one of the best movies
of 1996, it might seem shocking that such a movie could
not to get major Academy Award nominations, right? Well
be shocked; the only nominations "Evita" got were in minor
categories, and even in most of those, the film lost out
to the mess titled "The English Patient."
that change the fact, though, that "Evita" is the best musical
movie ever made? I think not; in fact, I'd consider the
movie as one of Hollywood's proudest and most stunning achievements.
It is a film so mesmerizing and lyrically provocative that
it will likely stun movie watchers with paralyzing awe.
And rightfully so; after twenty-something years of limbo
production, switching directors, rewrites of scripts and
going through numerous cast changing stages, it finally
announced itself to the screen when we all saw Madonna standing
on a balcony and singing to the Argentinean people.
'material girl' stars opposite Antonio Banderas, who is
essentially the film's narrator. He sings and shouts of
Eva Peron as she takes her third-class life to the top of
the Argentinean ladder; from beginning to end, he's there,
watching over her, as if he were some sort of guardian angel.
Considering that this is a musical entirely made on the
music, it wouldn't surprise me if he was.
as most know, plays Evita Peron, the woman whom, in the
late 1940s and early 1950s, helped her husband get into
the presidential seat, donated and raised money to support
the third-class citizens, and almost became vice president.
Her followers referred to her as "Partido Feminista," among
other things, and they literally considered her to be in
higher power than her husband, Juan.
the movie, appropriately, is about Eva's rise to power,
her fall, and Che's version of how the story unfolds. He
sees everything that goes on and knows exactly what to say
at exactly what time. The music (which is the film's only
dialogue) is constructed with striking and wonderful lyrics
which not only explain the story, but seem to demonstrate
the emotions that emerge from the film's central characters.
one of the final scenes, when Evita grows gravely ill, the
new song, "You Must Love Me," plays in the background as
if it were to be played at a funeral service. It is a song
very powerful and very sad; yes, we feel sorry for Evita
as she is dying, but the country's sorrows and sadnesses
outweigh anything we could possibly feel. These are the
people that, after all, knew her and trusted her. If this
had been a story about JFK, or another great American political
figure, we'd be the ones seriously emotional.
though, the movie plays like two entirely different films.
The first half is a document of Eva's struggles and triumphs
as she moves up the social ladder "like Cinderella." The
last half is a more appropriate portrait of the Evita we
knew from history books; the Evita who allowed the third-class
citizens to enjoy life more than she did when she was one
herself. Both sections of the movie are so different from
each other that, if you walked in on it near the beginning
and in the end, you'd swear it was two different films.
Why? Well, consider this: if a movie begins with the struggle
of a woman's third-class life and ends with the government
struggling to control this now-powerful woman, would that
sound like the same movie to you?
what does it come down to? What are the reasons for liking
such a movie? Why did the Academy reject it in some of the
most deserving categories? There are no answers to those
questions, because the reasons and answers are too numerous
to count. Now that I look at it, maybe that explains why
the Academy neglected it. Perhaps the people who select
the nominees were puzzled when they saw a woman in high
power on the screen.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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