“Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome, im cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!” [singing]
- Master of Ceremonies
What is there to be said about Bob Fosse’s amazing cinematic adaptation of the Broadway staple Cabaret that has not already been said numerous times before? The winner of eight Academy Awards, nominated for ten, losing out on Best Picture to The Godfather (which, incidentally, only won two other awards), the movie is a colossal triumph in every way, moving and feeling like nothing else musically the cinema had ever offered up before and, in most of the ways that count, ever have since.
Liza Minnelli electrifies as Kit Kat Club sensation Sally Bowles, her defiant yet fragile performance definitely deserving of the Oscar. Michael York, in what many ways is the role that defined him, is a beautifully stalwart yet wide-eyed Brian Roberts, his chemistry with both Minnelli as well as Helmut Griem (portraying the philandering German playboy who takes both Sally and Brian under his sexual wing) palpable.
Then there is fellow Oscar-winner Joel Grey as the pansexual and sinisterly androgynous Master of Ceremonies. His presence is electrifying, and while we only (more or less) see him inside the Kit Kat his impact on proceedings is undeniable. All of the themes of the Kander & Ebb musical hit home with mesmerizing precision whenever he is on the screen, the scary reality of the way the world is about the implode as unavoidable as Grey’s uncomforting and sinister grin.
Fosse’s genius is how anchors all of the real world portions of the film in their own naturalistic simplicity, making the growing fascism of German’s Nazi movement all the more terrifying in doing so. When coupled with the manic, sleazy energy inside the club, the movie has a nastiness that is close to undeniable, the growing unease of a world about the drown itself in blood and chaos omnipresent at almost every turn (thus making the only musical moment outside of the club, the haunting “Tomorrow Belongs To Me,” even more emotionally chilling than it likely would have been otherwise).
Cabaret has held up remarkably well over the decades, the movie only growing in impact and importance with each passing year. Fosse made a handful of very good films, but I’d suggest this is his unquestioned masterpiece, watching it the tenth time every bit as exhilarating as viewing it for that very first one is.
Cabaret is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Majority of the extras are ported over from previous DVD releases including the exhaustive Kit Kat Club Memory Gallery, the Recreation of an Era featurette, the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer and the excellent 1997 doc Cabaret: A Legend in the Making. New material exclusive to this DigiBook release includes:
· Commentary by author Stephen Tropiano – Fantastic track from the author of Cabaret: Music on Film that dives into the movie in some pretty amazing ways, the writer espousing on Bob Fosse’s vision and how important it was to him to change one’s expectations as to what a movie version of a Broadway musical could actually be. Fascinating stuff most of the time, with only a few lags here and there.
· Cabaret: The Musical that Changed Musicals (28:40) – Almost more of a Fosse biography than it is a look at Cabaret itself, this newly produced documentary featurette is still required viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in the film and/or the man who brought it to life onscreen.
As stated, the film also comes in impressive 41-page DigiBook packaging filled with photos, short bios and behind-the-scenes material that a lot of fun to look through and absorb.
Cabaret is one of the great movie musicals of all-time, plain and simple. Warner’s Blu-ray presentation borders on definitive, and I couldn’t recommend it with more passion, vim and vigor if I wanted to try. Buy it immediately.