From Stage to Silver Screen: Top 15 Movie Musicals of the Last 50 Years

By Ben Rimalower
14 Sep 2013


14. "Evita" (1996, directed by Alan Parker)

And speaking of singers not equal to the task, the casting of Madonna as Eva Peron guaranteed that the movie "Evita" would have none of the visceral fire that ignited the stage when Patti LuPone created the role on Broadway. Sadder still, the decision was made to soften the characterization of Eva, eliminating some of her more vengeful moments (i.e. the best moments in the show), presumably in order to appease the then Peronist government of Argentina so that key scenes could be filmed on historic location (e.g. the actual "Balcony of the Casa Rosada"), rather than on a soundstage. Still, Madonna acquitted herself as well as possible given those constraints, and when you think about the fact that they had to rewrite the lyric "she's the New World Madonna" (to "she's Our Lady of the New World"), it's hard to imagine anyone as suited to the scope of Eva's influence. Throughout the film when you see Madonna's own iconic face on the posters and banners carried by the "Descamisados," there's a Warholian synergy neither Meryl Streep nor Michelle Pfeiffer nor any of the other actresses rumored for the role could have delivered. Moreover, Alan Parker was forging new ground filming this sung-through style of pop opera for the MTV generation and he did it brilliantly, effortlessly weaving scenes together both tied to the narrative focus of the lyrics and as supplemental footage. "Evita" is, gorgeous, powerful and extremely watchable, and it boded well for the subsequently increased interest in movie musicals after a long, dormant period.


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