Aug 4, 2008

[Movies] A Chorus Line (1985)

A Chorus LineIn my continuing efforts to acquire more and more Broadway-related material, I managed to get a copy of the movie version of A Chorus Line, given most of my musical theater-ish has involved inevitable references to one of the play's more familiar songs, One.

I've never seen an actual production of the play and had only heard a few of the songs thus far - mainly because of mix albums, concert performances or of course, the Tony Awards. So it was sort of good that I entered this particular viewing experience without any major forms of bias.

Of course, given this particular film I can firmly say that these opinions truly aren't biased, no matter how...well...unforgettable this movie is. *sigh*

A Chorus LineImage via WikipediaAs a play, A Chorus Line is the story of a lot of Broadway hopefuls in an audition. As the story progresses, more and more candidates are cut and eventually it's narrowed down to a group of 17 "gypsies" and from here the director, Zach (Michael Douglas) starts interviewing each candidate to get to know more about them as he narrows the list down to 4 boys and 4 girls.

Thus the real story is actually about each of the lives of the individual gypsies, along with a side-story complication about Cassie (Alyson Reed) who is the last addition to the group of hopefuls and seems to have some sort of history with Zach. It was this angle that got the Hollywood treatment to the extreme.

In terms of acting / performance, this was another of those cases of mixed stage actors being thrust in front of the camera. There were cases of "stage acting" being done, which does tend to be a lot more theatrical and some of the sequences and interplay between the actors wasn't that remarkable. There were also now majorly-known names attached to the original stage play who opted to continue on with the film, further diminishing its value.

Plus there were no majorly big dance routines and production numbers to really take note of. Sure, there's the big finish, and that's more or less to be expected (and the number itself was good enough), but the rest of the film just felt awkward most of the time, with the actors involved somewhat stumbling around and trying to find their place or trying to make the movements / theatrical motions feel more natural.

For the heck of it, here's the finale. As the best number in the movie, you might get a better appreciation of how much worse everything else was:

A Chorus Line - One ( Finale)


In addition, there was the very Hollywood decision to change some of the songs, removing others and going as far as adding new ones into the mix. I can understand omissions but it's hard to forgive adding three new songs after taking away others. Why the need to add these in? Doesn't that somehow insult the original work?

The cherry on top was how they chose to reinterpret the meaning of the song What I Did For Love from being a sort of homage to the dancers and their craft to some love song of sorts between Zach and Cassie, which was totally beside the point.

As much as I love musicals in general, the genre alone is not enough for me to like this film. I doubt I'll ever watch it again and should space / storage become and issue, I'll probably not make an issue out of keeping it for posterity's sake or something like that. Oh sadness.
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