23 June 2009

Even The Orchestra is Beautiful!

I'm one of those. You know the type. People who don't go in for conventionality. I accept "all kinds" and I'm all for a good time. Live and let live, I say.

Gay, straight, bi, whatever.

Fun? I'm in. In my younger days you couldn't keep me in the house. Too much to explore, too much to do. Too many people to meet.

Sex? Hell yes. Booze? Let's have it. I was a risk taker and for the most "got away with it."

A movie like Cabaret (1972) spoke to me. Loud and clear. You had the woman, Sally Bowles. "Divine decadence." Talented. Flamboyant and ready to party. Yeah party became totally a verb back then. Multiple lovers not a problem. Big dreams aplenty. And the truth? Not as important as what it could get you which was not always as much as exaggeration or outright fibs could get. All this and she could belt out a song too.

Then there was the English gent, Brian Roberts. A studious type from Cambridge. Well read, smart as hell. But not adverse to a drink or 12 and some sex or lots of sex and with whoever, gender not so much an issue. Not my thing, mind you, but I was totally cool with what other open minded souls wanted to do. The notion of an academic being a party animal was especially cool. Bohemian.

You know that sentiment expressed in the song, "life is a cabaret, ole chum...." I heard that. And not it wasn't any good sitting all alone in your room. "Come here the music play." And so I would.

There was a guy in the movie known simply as The Master of Ceremonies. Kind of fun, kind of creepy. One bodacious talent. Was he supposed to be symbolic? Like did he represent something, cause he never actually talked. He was just always on the stage or in the wings. He welcomed us at the beginning and said auf wiedersehen at the end. He was a leering, singing, fast talking whirl of activity. Sometimes just the mouth moving, sometimes just the tongue. Weird but so interesting. Really.

Course that whole deal with the Nazis was scary. So damn real. After all the story was set in Berlin in 1931 just a couple of years before the Nazis were running the whole show in Germany. So at first they're kind of lurking in the background, then they're beating people up and singing in the countryside. Gathering support, scaring, intimidating people. By the end of the movie there they are, swastikas and all, the center of the frame. That was heavy stuff.

In the middle of this wild wonderful movie there was the love story of the two Jews. Amazing how they could meld that in so effortlessly and not only not detract from the film but enhance it. Added to the humor. To the pathos. To the whole "coming of the Nazis" message.

Cabaret came out just about the time I was planning my big adventure to Europe. I even saw it again there. The sense of adventure spoke to me. As did the sense of danger. And the sense of fun. The whole free spirited business of it. Those amazing musical numbers. The whole show!

Many years later -- today -- I love it just as much. Even though, in the words of youngest daughter, I'm an old geezer. Happy to stay at home and settle in on the sofa with a book or a movie. But about Cabaret, funny thing, I understand it more. I know the stories upon which it was based. Know more about Germany and the rise of the Nazis, like that kind of music in the movie even more.

Kind of metaphor for life, isn't it? We can really feel it when we're younger, we can go experience it. Older we "get it" you know, understand it. That experience counts for a lot. I've got a lot of "been there, done that" to my credit. Lot more yet to do and learn, mind you, but I think I'm finally starting to understand stuff.

When I was a lad Cabaret was telling me to go out and do. And by God I went out and did. Joie de vivre. Today it recalls those days and entertains every bit as much. No, maybe more.

I now know that life is in fact a Cabaret. We need to hear the music play and there's no good to sitting all alone in our rooms. What a gas to have that perspective; to not just know something is right, or fun or cool but to know why.

Cabaret, a movie so good its spoken to me at totally different part of my life. Ya know what its told me? That its a great movie, that's what.

(Cabaret was directed by Bob Fosse and starred Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles, Michael York as Brain Roberts and Joel Grey as The Master of Ceremonies. Minelli, Grey and Fosse all won Oscars and the movie won eight in all. It lost the Best Picture Oscar to The Godfather (1972), one of only six American films that I actually like better than Cabaret.)

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Very thoughtful and personal remarks on a great and layered movie. Thanks!