Review of 'Cabaret'

cabaret.jpg Brian Roberts (Michael York), a penniless university student, arrives in 1930s Berlin to complete his German studies. He finds himself boarding with flamboyant Cabaret headliner Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) who lives for the moment. They are immediately attracted to each other but Brian's interest is with the other sex…When the wealthy Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem) enters their lives their relationship falters and with the tensions building with the rise of the Nazis things are not going to go well.

This rather frenetic story is told interspersed with diverse musical acts from the Kit Kat Club, the Cabaret at which Bowles works, with the completely over the top master of ceremonies (Joel Grey). These often complement what is happening in the lives of Bowles and Roberts as they happily race through their lives in a free-living Berlin. The dialog is just as fast particularly from Minnelli who utterly convinces as the youthful Bowles. This is Minnelli at the height of her talent, putting on spellbinding performances such as in “Mein Herr” where the tempo quickly rises to a frantic pace only the young have any hope of achieving. Of course it is the song “Cabaret” which will readers will no doubt recall from this film which is not only impeccably performed by Minnelli but brought to new heights with the choreography of director Bob Fosse - A theatrical legend. He manages to make the moves seem so effortless and natural which is why he is considered the best there ever was.

“Cabaret” is filmed in a straightforward manner, managing to appear almost documentary-like with quite a dark palate with the ever-present feeling that “something bad” is going to happen. This feeling is fully justified, of course, though the ending may surprise first time viewers. Over the course of just over 2 hours Fosse really manages to capture the essence of 1930s Germany both politically and socially, fully aware the audience knows what will happen in the violent years to follow. Here we see the rise of the Nazi youth and the party as they begin to infect the society with their bigoted philosophy, hatred and violence. In one scene a young boy with a lovely voice sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” with the camera panning down from his face to reveal the swastika on his arm and causing the song to be given an entirely different, much darker meaning.

The plot moves very slowly after the first 10-15 minutes with eventually sputtering to a rather abrupt halt by the end. Having said that, the music, the musical performances, and choreography is magnificent and well worth the admission price…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-03-08

Directed by: Bob Fosse

Studio: Allied Artists Pictures

Year: 1972

Length: 124 minutes

Genre: Musical