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Madonna's most magical movie momemt
Member Name: micksheff
Advantages: Great story, good acting
Disadvantages: A difficult story to follow in places
My fascination with the story of Eva Duarte goes back many years. Long before 1996 in fact when this film of her life story, starring Madonna was made.
The story of Evita is a fascinating one and it is a role that it is said that Madonna had set her eyes upon for a long time. Rumours that a full length film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End Musical was to be made had been circulating for years and apparently Madonna contacted Andrew Lloyd Webber on several occasions, slowly convincing him that she was the perfect person for the lead role.
The Film that was eventually to be made was obviously based on the West End Musical but it was to be a film with a difference, since almost all of the dialogue was to be sung rather than spoken. I had my reservations of how this would work but since I was already fascinated with the story of this film's central character and also a fan of Madonna I waited for the release of this film with eager anticipation.
The film opens on the 26th July 1952 in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Eva already dead, lying in State in her coffin and in the background one of several variations of what is probably the most famous song from the soundtrack "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" is playing. People are walking past her coffin crying, others are hysterical, unable to believe that the woman, who had become Argentina's First Lady was dead at the age of just 33.
As "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" fades out the story jumps back to the 1930's where we see Eva as a young girl in rural Argentina watching her father's funeral from a distance with her mother and sisters. There is some commotion in which the widow screams abuse at Eva's mother and they are all ushered away into the background.
Maria Eva Duarte had been born illegitimate, out of wedlock and therefore there was a huge stigma attached to the fact that she was at the funeral as in the eyes of the other people in the village she had no right to be at her father's funeral.
At the age of fifteen Eva leaves her rural birth land and heads off to the nation's capital, Buenos Aires where she pursues her career as a radio, stage and film actress. Arriving with nothing she meets many different men on her early journey using them as stepping stones to further her career. Amongst these early lovers is a singer called Agustin Migaldi, played by Jimmy Nail, who she convinces to take her to the capital, once there she quickly dumps him and moves on.
Most of the story is told through the eyes of Che Geuvara a Political Activist and an important figure in 1930/40's Argentina, Che is played by Antonio Banderas who scornfully watches Eva rise through Buenos Aires's society to the point where she meets the soon to be President of Argentina, Colonel Juan Domingo Peron.
Eva's stunning good looks and ability to manipulate most of the people that she meets soon sweeps the Colonel off his feet, and despite the fact that he is already married they quickly become lovers.
Andrea Corr (of the Band the Corrs) plays Peron's first wife and there is a scene where Eva drags her out of bed with the opening lines of a song called "Hello and Goodbye" in which she sings "Hello and goodbye, I've just unemployed you. You can go back to school now. You've had a good run".
Eva and Peron marry in 1945 and Eva becomes prominent in his campaign to become President of Argentina in the elections of the following year. She captures the heart of the nation and it is said that immediately after Peron's landslide victory that his wife was twice as popular as the President himself. The Eva rollercoaster gathers force and the nation take her to their heart, affectionately calling her "Evita" a Spanish word for Little Eva.
Over the next six years Evita becomes not only the most powerful woman in Argentina, but one of the leading figures in the whole of the Spanish-speaking World. Evita launches a charity foundation called the Eva Peron Foundation and even forms the nation's first large-scale female political party, called the Female Peronist Party. In 1951 Eva announces that she is to run for the position of the Vice President of Argentina in the forthcoming elections, but despite support from her husband's own Party she has strong opposition from both the military and elite that see no place in the Country's Politics for a woman.
The military and elite eventually quash Evita's plans to stand in an election but there is a much bigger concern for Eva, that of her rapidly declining health. This was something that she hid not only hide from the nation but also from her husband until her last dying days when she could hide it from him no longer.
María Eva Duarte de Perón died on the 26th July 1952 from terminal cancer at the age of 33. This is where the film ends as it begins. Eva's short life has ended but she appears to have achieved so much, including the seemingly inevitable task of uniting the people of her country. There are still however her sceptics and none more so than the scathing Che Geuvara who cannot believe that his Country has fallen for all of her lies and false promises.
Che Geuvara planned a Coup to overthrow the Peron Government but such was the support for Evita his plans failed and although Eva and Che never met during their lives there is a wonderful scene towards the end of the film where Eva is dying and she dreams that she is dancing in the arms of Che. The song that accompanies this waltz is called "Your Little Body's Slowly Breaking Down" and it has lyrics that bring a real lump to your throat.
The leading role of Eva Peron is played by Madonna to perfection, her voice seems to suit the songs as if they were written for her, even though they had been originally penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice over 30 years earlier. This film version of Evita does however feature one brand new song called "You Must Love Me." A song that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote especially for this film, yet it sits in amongst the other tracks like it has always been there.
There are also superb acting and vocal performances from all of the other leading actors too. In particular from Antonio Banderas is his role as Che Gauvara and from Jonathon Pryce as President Juan Peron.
I think that Evita is a fantastic film and one that I have watched many times. This is a film only review but it is obviously available on DVD and has now been shown on TV many times.
If I have to be critical of this film in any way it would have to be to say that it is a somewhat difficult film to watch in places jumping from the present back to the past and then back to the present again. The fact that the story begins with Eva's death and ends in the same place could be considered rather strange but as the credits roll you realise that this helps to wrap up the story perfectly. I would suggest that for someone watching this film without any prior knowledge of Eva Peron may find some bits a little difficult to understand as the complexity and length of the story that is told here does not always allow a full explanation around some of the events.
Running Time - 129 minutes
Certification - PG (Parental Guidance)
Summary: A film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita