'Cabaret' 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Released

The book from the Cabaret 40th anniversary Blu-ray release

Cabaret, director Bob Fosse’s Oscar Award-winning 1972 film musical, finally got its Blu-ray re-release last week. This is crucial because it is only though the rich and lustrous clarity of Blu-ray technology that audiences can see and feel Fosse’s deep red and black palette. It is with Blu-ray that Liza Minnelli’s eyes seem to pop like never before. The gorgeously dirty decadence that was Berlin, circa 1931, oozes from every frame of this 40th anniversary re-issue.

The newly re-configured Cabaret comes with vintage shorts on the making of the original film and its dedication to the authenticity of the period; the wretched Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazi Party and the onslaught of anti-Semitism gets less subtle as the film goes on. There is also a new featurette about its historical importance, and a booklet of rare production photos.

Fosse was well acquainted with theater at its seediest before he came to Cabaret. If we are to believe the heightened reality of his autobiographical 1979 film, All That Jazz,  as a young hoofer Fosse danced in cat houses, burlesque rooms, and strip palaces. His directorial debut, 1969’s Sweet Charity was a humorous musical take on Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini’s tale of a hopeful prostitute. The lurid Cabaret and its sexually charged portrayal of life during the desperate times of pre-war Berlin came naturally to Fosse.

Fosse had great source material for his sophomore directorial effort: the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret by Kander and Ebb, which was adapted from the 1945 book The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood. Fosse had his own fast-cutting sense of cinematography and flashing jazz-hands choreography as part of his cinematic arsenal. For his female lead he had Liza Minnelli at her prime – all wide eyed, gangly and big voiced – excited to belt out songs such as Kander and Ebb’s titular hit.To go with that he had male leads in the handsome Michael York as the gay paramour and Joel Grey as the catty cabaret emcee.  For their efforts, Cabaret won eight Academy Awards, including Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress (Liza Minnelli), and Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey).

Over forty years after its initial release, Cabaret still dazzles.

Photo ©Warner Bros. Studios

Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013