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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Music with mammaries

Author: rps-2 from Bracebridge Ont
6 June 2003

I am an opera lover. As a healthy male, I also love the female breast. So this film should have been nirvana for me. It wasn't bad. But all through the film, I obsessed about how old Joe Green (Giuseppe Verdi) would have reacted had he been able to see it. The musical side is good, not great, but adequately good. But even for Italian opera, the dramatics are overdone. Good lord... Amneris behaved as though she was suffering apoplexy. And I'm not really sure why just about everyone in the film went around topless. (And almost bottomless.) Skin flick meets grand opera. Sopranos reach high notes more easily without bras. Wives devise new tactic to attracting bored husbands to culture. Whatever! It certainly is an unusual approach. But unorthodox as it may be, they have not touched the wonderful, passionate music of the maestro. And, if you also like boobs, well, you get two for the price of one. Two shows that is...

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An experience in Authenticity, very realistic scenes

Author: lora64 from Canada
22 February 2006

I just happened to tune in to the TV showing of this movie tonight, but it listed Sophia Loren as Aida, and it really didn't look like her! Anyways at the end the credits showed Ridderstadt as Aida. By coincidence I've just bought the Sophia L. version and have yet to view it.

The Ridderstadt performance is wonderfully natural to put it mildly, I mean, how close can you get to Nature since wardrobe fittings were at a minimum and left much to be desired in the area of adequate costumes for all. Well that's the version they wished to present.

I found it quirky in a way to hear Verdi's triumphal march music played during the procession of camels bringing the victorious army back from battle.

This opera is one of the finest for music, one could hardly ask for more.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

What would Verdi have said?

Author: L. Denis Brown ( from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
19 February 2006

The Swedish Director Claes Fellborn has been responsible for two remarkably fine film versions of Grand Opera; Carmen in 1983 and Aida in 1987. These are sung in Italian with English subtitles, and both are hard to find today but provide very worth while viewing for anyone lucky enough to have the chance of seeing them. The few reviews of Carmen on this database are very enthusiastic, those for Aida are much more dubious. Whilst the quality of the music and singing are recognised, considerable doubts are expressed about the costuming which shows Aida topless. Some reviews even suggest this is a gimmick designed to increase the audience by combining the appeal of opera with that of burlesque. ("Skin flick meets Grand Opera", etc.). I have just noted that this version of Aida is scheduled for broadcasting on Bravo TV again nest week, and am sending you these comments to encourage anyone who is interested to watch this TV transmission of a very fine film that is not often shown today...

All visual entertainment is based on certain conventions accepted by the audience. Watching puppet theatre we must be prepared to accept the puppets as real characters with whom we can associate. In live theatre we accept both painted sets as reality, and limitations on what can really be portrayed. The cinema is the art form in which such limitations are minimised. A play based on the last voyage of the Titanic would be limited to scenes showing staterooms, restaurants and cabins; with perhaps glimpses of the sea and icebergs through portholes. It might end with the sinking of the ship and the drowning of the principal characters - this would be done by showing them waiting in their cabin until the lights failed, there was a great roar of water, and crashing sounds indicated the furniture and fittings being thrown around. Compare this with the very expensive to stage but very dramatic sequences of the ship sinking in the film "Titanic". We watch a movie and it is so realistic that we can easily believe we are watching real events, even when the film dates from a long past period. Maintaining the reality of this illusion is a vital part of film making. Films like "The Wizard of Oz " or many sci-fi dramas are pure fantasy, but efforts are still made to maintain the same illusion. The same with musicals - people normally board trolley cars without bursting into song but the mood of a musical must be such that we are prepared to suspend disbelief when it happens. This is easier with most popular musicals which are predominantly happy stories than with grand opera. Bursting into song en route to execution or when dying of consumption and fighting for every breath seems intrinsically more unlikely, and this is probably why the appeal of opera is much more limited. Those who stage or film it have to struggle at every turn to make it seem more credible to the audience. Many people say Aida is the pinnacle of Italian tragic opera. But the story dates almost from pre-history and is in fact probably legendary. The ongoing wars between Egypt and Ethiopia extended over a long period but were never historically documented. Our knowledge of life during that period comes more from archaeological relics than from historical records. A visit to a museum, or a look at any book on historical costumes, shows us that at this period slaves wore virtually nothing and everyday people wore very little. The climate was ideal, clothing was not needed for warmth or (except in the case of the army) personal protection. Jewellery was used for adornment and rank or status was not indicated by the richness of robes but by the height of the headgear worn - nobody ever dared wear anything as high as that of the Pharoh. Most people today learn this at school and the reality of the illusion created by performances of Aida is greatly reduced by the use of modern dress - whether western or oriental. Claes Fellborn decided to avoid this trap by costuming his cast in a minimalistic approximation to what was probably worn at the actual period of the story. Some modern viewers have been offended by this. They are fully entitled to their views and will presumably not watch his film, but the rest of us should be able to do so without wanting to indulge in the sort of snide comments to be found in some reviews of Aida on this database.

As to concerns about what Verdi himself would have thought, we must remember that he wrote his operas at a time when their audience was primarily the Royal families and nobles of Europe. He clearly loved the art form and I believe if he had been born in this more democratic age he would have welcomed the increasing interest in opera shown by many ordinary people today. We will never know this - had he been brought up in a different period his character would not have been the same. What we do know is that after he achieved success he became increasingly autocratic and wanted to control every detail of the presentation of his works. Reducing the presentation of a Shakespearean play or a grand opera to the time scale of a modern movie forces the director concerned to take many liberties. Verdi would be unlikely to have approved in detail of the work of Fellborn or any other film director. However he was always very anxious to ensure that his works were only presented in the largest and best equipped opera houses where the spectacles he incorporated in his librettos could be shown to best advantage - I believe that he would have welcomed film versions of his operas where the spectacles are much more impressive than they could be in even the largest opera houses.

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Very disappointing!

Author: jhd ( from Alberta, Canada
21 April 2003

This is a filmed on location adaptation of Verdi's famous opera. The writer took some liberties with the original plot, particularly the ending and the addition of several new scenes of cavorting topless slave girls. Aida also spends most of the film topless.

The lyrics are in Italian, of course, with English subtitles. The actors appear to be (badly) lip-synching rather than singing. This makes it sometimes difficult to ascertain exactly which character is singing a part (especially when the camera is focusing on something other than the actor).

Even the colour seemed washed out, though that may have just been the print I saw.

This is one of the most disappointing screen adaptations of Aida that I have ever seen!

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