18 April 2002 | o_levina
That's what I call a masterpiece
It's a strongest film I know. Every time I watch it, it bewilders me so I can't turn my eyes away from the screen, even though I remember all what happens by heart. It fills me with a strange mixed feeling of interest-sympathy-admiration-disgust-and-horror. One of the reviewers here called this film depressing, and I inclined to agree. Any picture of Berlin in 1931 must be depressing and frightening. But, on the other hand, there is an atmosphere of desperate reckless joy in the movie. When the entire world goes mad and speeds to a catastrophe, life is a cabaret! Do what you can, come hear the music play, don't permit some prophet of doom wipe every smile away, and end as the happiest corpse! It's one idea. There is also another, more humanistic: live and let live. Brian fails to understand Sally, so they fall apart. Fritz for the sake of his love faces the danger of admitting that he is Jew in Germany. There is no hope for him and Natalia in this country in this time. But he couldn't do otherwise. There are plenty of other ideas too: about money, politics, corruption, perverseness, decadence, stupidity of middle classes, talent, success, etc. The story is very simple and incredibly complicated in the same time. No use retelling it. It must be seen. It's life as it was in 1931 and in many ways as it is nowadays. I suppose that Cabaret would be a great film even without any musical numbers, but with them it is a masterpiece. They say that history repeats itself, for the first time as a tragedy, for the second time as a farce. Well, I would say that in Cabaret every event repeats itself for the first time as a human drama in life and for the second time as a farce on the stage, but it would not be exactly true. Life and farce are shown synchronically or farce even go in advance. But every staged number in divinely decadency Kit Kat Klub ruthlessly shows the naked truth of life. (Only Mein Herr and Maybe This Time have more to do with the character of Sally Bowles.) And of course, Tomorrow Belongs To Me must be mentioned separately. The way of German people towards fascism is presented in one startling scene. And in finale too. That distorted reflection of the audience full of Nazi, accompanied by a tense silence after Master's of Ceremonies Aufwiedershen' is horrible. The movie due half of its unforgettable effect to the masterful camera shots. Actors' works are absolutely fantastical. Surely, Master Of Ceremonies is Joel Grey star role. He is amazing as that demonic shameless figure that seems to know everything, understand everything and deride everything. Liza Minnelli shines in every scene, acting, speaking, singing and dancing. I know few performances equally true, strong, brilliant and stylish as hers as Sally Bowles. Michael York is excellent as well, though he is often underestimated. It's only his character who is reserved, intelligent and avoids show-off. And he is perfectly British. I really admire York's acting in the movie. There are also beautiful Marisa Berenson as noble Natalia, Fritz Wepper very believable as tormented Fritz, repulsively attractive Helmut Griem as the rich scoundrel Maximilian and picturesque supporting cast. John's Kander's music is wonderful and haunting.
Shortly, Cabaret is a work of a genius, or it would be better to say of geniuses: Bob Fosse and the crew and the cast. And it's flawless.