“Perfect” Movie Musicals?



The release of RENT seems to have stirred up once more the debate around what makes a film adaptation of a stage musical “perfect”. Is it one that remains as faithful as possible to the material? Is it one that caters for the medium of film, even if a great deal of the show ends up being cut? One that just tells the story told in the musical? Or one that is simply a good film that doesn’t concern itself with trying to please fans of the stage show?

The point is that every film adaptation will have it’s detractors, so maybe there is no definitive answer. Maybe perfect is the wrong word to use. Off the top of my head, I’d say that Chicago, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret are great film adaptations of stage musicals. Even when they aren’t particularly faithful, they are good films in their own right.

Any thoughts?

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17 Responses to “Perfect” Movie Musicals?

  1. Hans Anders Elgvang says:

    I wonder why the mistakes directors make when making movies of stage shows are so particularly corny, much more corny than when it is a “straight” show that is filmed. Perhaps it is only me who is paranoid on behalf of my favourite genre.

  2. Mel AKA Maureen says:

    Because directors in Hollywood like to make everything over dramatic, whereas theater directors know that the is dramatic enough. I could be wrong, but that’s how I see it. I mean, name one movie, especially stage to cinema, where everything was perfect.

  3. Andy Simpson says:

    Mel AKA Maureen wrote:
    Name one movie, especially stage to cinema, where everything was perfect.

    Three words: Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).

  4. Mel AKA Maureen says:

    While the Jesus is awesome, his “Gethsemane” is missing a lot of the cool improvisations, and some of it drags a bit at times.

  5. Lone Wanderer says:

    Yeah, “Gethsemane” is somehow not as vocally amazing as it could be, just because a lot of the crazy awesome improvisations were not added until later. Damn though – guy’s got some pipes.

    There are a few weak moments in Jesus Christ Superstar. I haven’t watched it for a while but at times a bit of it wasn’t as good as I thought it could be (that said I still think it kicks ass). The tank thing with Judas bugs me whenever I see it, but I guess others might like them. Also, the priests in general were not as exciting as I thought they’d be. “This Jesus Must Die” in particular was not as “holy crap” as I think it should be. The rattling of the scaffolding was just strange. “Trial Before Pilate” wasn’t as powerful as I thought it might be as well, though I’m not sure if it was that song that I had a problem with or Pilate and Christ – one of the two was disappointing. Great movie though.

  6. Hans Anders Elgvang says:

    “King Herod’s Song” is misdirected and not slightly funny.

  7. David Fick says:

    Jesus Christ Superstar is, at best, an interesting attempt at putting the show on film. Some of it works, much of it does not.

  8. Ryan J says:

    Mel AKA Maureen wrote:
    Name one movie, especially stage to cinema, where everything was perfect.

    The Sound of Music!

  9. Mel AKA Maureen says:

    HA! Not only is the music itself not the greatest (in the show or movie) but the actors who played the children could not sing worth a damn, and the plot was distorted in many places.

  10. Ryan J says:

    The kids couldn’t sing because Julie Andrews was still teaching them how, you goober!

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