Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Movie Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita" (1996)

I have such fond memories of this movie. Watching it for the first time over Thanksgiving break my freshman year of college. Loving it so much, I bought a copy of the movie AND the soundtrack as soon as I got back to school. Sharing the movie with my parents and some of their friends, all of them expecting not to like it, and all of them enjoying it. I have most of the major songs memorized, and quite a few of the lesser-known as well.


Although The Phantom of the Opera is the first Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I heard, Evita is the first I saw because it was made into a movie starring Antonio Banderas and Madonna. The movie is rich, nuanced, probably wildly historically inaccurate, and wonderful.

Everyone knows "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," so I won't say much about it here. There's a reason it's famous, though -- it's quite stirring. I'm always disappointed it's not actually about a guy named Argentina, though. I heard it before I saw the movie, but I didn't know the story line at all, so I made up what I thought it was about.  I thought it was her saying goodbye to a guy she nicknamed Argentina and telling him not to miss her.  Sigh.  Well, it was a cool idea.

One of my favorites is "Another Suitcase in Another Hall."  I like how subdued and heart-achy it is. Much of Evita is militant and brash, but this is very emotional. It's about how young Eva has to turn to being a "kept woman" to support herself, but she never stays with a man long, so she always ends up holding her suitcase, standing in a hall outside a place she's leaving.


Here's a much more fun song, "And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)." This one has such a great energy, and of course, lots of Antonio Banderas singing. In the musical, his character Che is the narrator, but he also interacts with other characters, he doesn't just stand on the sidelines and watch, though sometimes he does that too. It's a really nifty device, and one of my favorite things about Evita. In this song, Che is explaining how, once she's the first lady of Argentina, Eva starts this fund to help the poor, but everyone's so busy collecting and distributing the money, no one's keeping books, so there might be some corruption going on, but who cares as long as the money keeps pouring out, right?


"High Flying, Adored" is my most-favoritest song on the whole soundtrack. Che singing about how Eva has become super famous, but so easily and so young that she's in danger of becoming bored with everything. It is elegant and soaring and delicious. Eva insists it won't be a problem, she's not convinced she's that special.  Che knows better.


Even if you don't like musicals (and that's not a sin), if you're interested in politics, corruption, or the history of South America (though I've heard this is not entirely accurate), you might enjoy it. It's only rated PG, but there is a lot of innuendo, the Argentinian version of the middle finger, some rough language, and violence. You can read imdb.com's Parent's Guide for it here if you want to know more. 

Also, it's a light opera more than just a musical -- nearly every line is song, as is typical for Andrew Lloyd' Webber's shows. People don't dance about and burst into song only periodically, they do that for the whole movie.

I remember reading once that, as a young man, Antonio Banderas lived in an apartment with thin walls next door to a theater where people were performing Evita, and he learned all the songs by hearing them over and over that way. So when he was cast as Che, he didn't have to learn any of the lyrics because he knew them already! That story makes me grin :-D

(The bulk of this review originally appeared here at J and J Productions on August 25, 2015.)

10 comments:

  1. My parents had the LP and I definitely remember it being one of the records we played with regularity when I was a kid.

    Before we broke the LP player and discovered they were really expensive to repair at that time because "no one" was interested in records anymore.

    Ha!

    Anyway, lots of fun songs. One of my favourites was the one that is sort of an angry duet, I don't remember what it was called.

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    1. Aww, cool! I assume that was a Broadway cast recording or something? Or was it the movie soundtrack on LP?

      I have a turntable. It's a "suitcase" turntable with built-in speakers, plays 33, 45, and 77 rpm records, and cost about $50...

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    2. I searched for album covers just now, and I think what they had was a copy of Evita: The Original London Cast Recording from 1978.

      There is a turntable in my basement that I believe does work, I just never seem to get around to using it. I'm not really a "just listen to music" type of person - I'll usually listen to an audiobook or podcast or radio in situations where other people would be listening to music.

      It's not that I don't like music, I just don't really think about listening to it instead, if that makes sense.

      I think it's partly because if I do listen to music, I'll end up dancing around and not get whatever chore I'm supposed to be working on done, but if I'm listening to people talking, I can also work at the same time.

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    3. VT, that would make sense for a recording to have on LP!

      I listen to music while I cook and clean, mainly. And sometimes in the evening while doing a jigsaw puzzle with my kids -- that's when the turntable gets used the most. Music is my background. I also listen to a lot of music while writing.

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  2. Oooh, your description has made me interested to hear this musical!! I've hear the Dont Cry for me Argentina song, never knew it was connected to something.

    I like Webber's style of music. Recently hooked on Phantom of the Opera. Melodies have a way of getting stuck in your brain.

    I'm curious to know what your favorite musicals are??

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    1. Pages, I really like a lot of Webber's music too. Especially this and Phantom! He writes some really belt-able tunes.

      My favorite musicals are Guys and Dolls, An American in Paris, White Christmas, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story, State Fair, Brigadoon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singin' in the Rain, Oklahoma, Evita, Phantom of the Opera... I love a lot of musicals!

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  3. Yes, he does!

    So many classics!! Guys and Dolls is a good one, need to rewatch as it's been a while. The first time we watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, my sisters and I laughed so hard. Cannot say it's a favorite, but good for a laugh. Just discovered Hello Dolly, which is a gem.
    Never seen State Fair or Oklahoma.

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    1. Pages, I agree -- one of the things I like best about Seven Brides is how much it makes me laugh. And that it's a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which I just find so fun.

      Hello, Dolly! is another favorite for me! Spectacular.

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  4. This is . . . probably my favorite musical? Like, yes, the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady is possibly my favorite FILM ever, but that has more to do with it as a film than as a musical. In terms of musicals, on their own and in their own right, considered solely on their musical merit? This is probably my favorite. I think it definitely has my favorite libretto of any musical. Mmmm, so good. So, so good.

    Love this post, and love the songs you highlighted! This is another one that we need to add to our list of shows to watch together someday.

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    1. Olivia, this is a brilliant choice for favorite musical. It's such a fascinating mixture of sparkle and grime.

      This would be marvelous to watch together!!! I haven't actually seen it in like a decade.

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