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Cabaret (1972) – Eclectic Film Committee Review

The Eclectic Film Committee is a group of staff & faculty at the Marriott Library who love films and help students learn about film resources at the library. We’re highlighting one film a month and discussing its relevance today as well as its film merits. This month’s film is the 1972 Bob Fosse classic, Cabaret. This film is available through the Marriott Library for University of Utah students, staff, & faculty. 

Molly Rose Steed | Assistant Head, Moving Image and Sound Archivist

Cabaret is a movie set in the 1930s with a very 1970s aesthetic, but it certainly resonates today.  The story of somebody blithely preoccupied with petty interpersonal drama as the world around them takes a turn for the worse is, unfortunately, always timely, and, right now, there are so many terrible things in the world it’s easy to wish you could simply ignore.  In Cabaret, Bob Fosse’s garish choreography and artsy montage-style direction work alongside Kander and Ebb’s often cynical songs to establish the crass and gaudy title cabaret as an unflattering – but nevertheless escapist – reflection of reality.  By focusing on song, dance, and romance, the film effectively highlights (by its conspicuous near absence) the gradual descent of an economically depressed Germany into a Nazi regime, terrifying here because it happens almost out of sight.

Angela Wilkins | Media Engineer

Cabaret takes a refreshing turn from the traditional musical format by presenting stand-alone musical numbers interspersed between the narratives.

Jordan Hanzon | Marketing & PR Associate

Liza Minnelli is an absolute goddess. Just need to say that up top. I had only heard of Cabaret in the context of a major plot of the latest season of Schitt’s Creek, so I was going into this movie with little to no expectations other than the choreography being flamboyant. The choreography did not disappoint. If you love musicals such as Chicago, you’ll absolutely love this movie! Liza singing “Maybe This Time” gave me chills.

Marie Paiva | Grad and Undergrad Services Librarian
Marie Paiva | Grad and Undergrad Services Librarian

The 1972 multiple award winning film, Cabaret, is full of familiar music, songs, dancing and laughs. The music and characters pulls us in directly into the presence of the film setting.  We see wonderful costumes, well- known actors of that time, and  fetching stage sets and scenery. The film takes place in Berlin in 1931 when Adolf Hitler was starting to rise and increase his political tactics in Europe.

One of the film’s themes was religion as it played such a huge role in Nazi Germany.

However, it is sad to note, almost 90 years later, religious intolerance and injustice exists in a similar way, here and abroad. How many times have we  heard about hatred and persecution of religious groups in  the current news? Sadly, the political scene and players may have changed, but similar religious stereotypes and bigotry from 1931 still exist in 2020.

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