11 July 2008 | sarastro7
Bordering on awful
You know what burns my ass? That there is no proper filmed version of this musical. Why? It is one of the single most popular musicals in the world, being staged over and over again from 1986 and up to the present, and yet no wholesome and representative performance has been released, with the original English lyrics. Why? With all the performances that have taken place, it certainly can't be because none were ever filmed! I'm sure some were. Do the ones who have the film rights have some kind of money phobia? I sure can't think of any other explanation.
I'm asking these questions because I am a huge, huge fan of the originally recorded album, and like millions of other fans I am absolutely thirsting for a release of a version that lives up to the album's level.
However, the only film version we have is this 2003 Swedish version. And it's just not very good. It's watchable, but it has a lot of things going against it, including the language. Sure, it's got good things. Körberg and Sjöholm are both very impressive. And I don't mind the fact that some of the music has been switched around; I think it's fine that it's an evolving musical. (Sometime back in the late '90s I went to some kind of special Olympic opening ceremony in Copenhagen where one of the acts were a handful of songs from Chess - that's the only reason I attended -, incl. one or two completely new ones - and they were great! More cool stuff that for no adequately explained reason HASN'T BEEN RELEASED!!)
Anyway, this 2003 DVD version has got far more bad things than good ones. Many of the remaining cast are not very good, the Swedish versions of the songs frequently sound like gibberish (esp. in the chorus pieces - and I'm Danish and by and large *understand* Swedish!), and the stage choreography is, in my opinion, horrid. The comical dancers and other comic relief scenes are completely wrong for the story's mood and setting, and reduces the musical to a frivolous operetta, which really isn't what it is. What's wrong with using a Cold War setting today? Nothing! Why do people think it's somehow completely improper to have a historical setting? The story of Chess loses all its meaning if it's not set in a tense Cold War atmosphere.
So this DVD was a disappointment to me. It does not add anything in particular to the original album, but only detracts from it.
5 out of 10.