Excellent Lloyd Webber-Rice musical is finally brought to the silver screen twenty years after the release of its concept album. Being used to watching flashy, colourful musicals, namely from MGM, full of catchy tunes and full of breathtaking dance routines, "Evita" left me quite shocked. It was the first (and last) "political" musical I saw. The music impressed me at once, however the story and the setting did not quite do so at first sight. It was only later, when I read something about the life story of Eva Peron did I really appreciate the excellent work Lloyd Webber and Rice did. Even though they were not 100% faithful to the real story, the bio-musical gave a somewhat clear picture of what type of woman Eva Peron was. The movie was great with its re-enactments of the 1940s-1950s Argentine elections, however, having personally performed in the stage version (playing a descamisado, a waiter, a policeman and one of Eva's lovers), I cannot but point out the several drawbacks it had. It is true that the funeral, the electoral campaign and the terrorism were by far better on screen than on stage, yet the stage musical had a certain charm which was lost in the film. It could be due to the fact that on stage there was some dancing involved while the movie had none; it could be because one was live and one was playback; it could be because some of the harmonies were lost in the movie; it could be simply due to the fact that in one I participated while in the other I was just a spectator. I don't know, still the stage version was more "alive". Nonetheless, in order to be fair, I have to admit that the movie version did have some improvements as regards to the play. The best one of them was the song "You Must Love Me". Apart from finally re-uniting composer and lyricist after more than 10 years of cold war, it presents the First Lady of Argentina as a woman who has some feelings, who is afraid in front of her approaching death, who is not only interested in becoming vice-president, as the stage production tends to hint. How much this is historically true is beyond me, yet it is good to give some human element to the heroine.
I was quite impressed by the actors' interpretations. Madonna has finally showed the world that she is able to look great without taking her clothes off, that she is more than just voice, boobs and scandal. Jonathan Pryce was excellent as the Argentine president - such a pity he had so little to sing, having such a great voice. Antonio Banderas impressed me - I did not know he was that good at singing. The role of the narrator was quite a breakthrough after his tough-guy' parts, and he did it quite well. Some critics said that this movie would set the way for future film versions of musicals - I hope they were right!