You might not think that Bob Fosse’s Cabaret and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables would have much in common. They hardly seem comparable aesthetically, narratively, or musically. Yet during a recent viewing of Fosse’s classic film (out on Blu-ray today), I was struck by a not-so-distant kinship between these stage-to-screen musicals. Les Mis and Cabaret don’t just present a movie to their viewers. They welcome us in directly, intimately immersing us in the action.
Cabaret literally (actually literally) invites us in. The film begins with The Kit Kat Klub’s Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey) looking directly at us before launching into a song welcoming us and the club’s audience. Cabaret knows we’re there and doesn’t want us to linger at the threshold. It symbolically sits us down in the Kit Kat Klub. Throughout “Willkommen” (and almost every subsequent musical number) the camera becomes us — an audience member constantly roaming around to get the best view. Cabaret goes on to extend that sense of our presence to the entire movie. The audience is made to be an omnipresent voyeur, living inside the film, while fostering an intimate and immersive connection with the characters and story. … Read More