Saturday, December 31, 2005

More on the Film of "The Producers"

Norman LeBrecht does a nice job analyzing what he considers the failure of the film of The Producers, and much more insightfully than A. O. Scott's misguided attack on theatre audiences. LeBrecht, a fan of the original film and the musical, but not of the new film, writes:

"The sole heartening aspect of The Producers as a movie is its like-for-like
vindication of live art over canned, its proof positive – and how positive –
that the musical will carry on running on Broadway, in the West End and on tour
for years after its synthetic transposition is consigned to the dump bins of DVD
stores and the lower recesses of cable television."

I haven't seen the musical or the new film, but that doesn't stop me from agreeing with LeBrecht. There is something quintessentially theatrical about a stage musical, and that simply doesn't transfer to film. It has something to do with the circular flow of energy between stage and audience that is cut off in film, which is a one-way medium. (Lovers of the fourth wall might take note.)

While there are many theatre people who might not be enthralled by musicals in general, I think there is value in examining what makes the form continue to thrive. It is simply too easy to dismiss the form as successful because of pandering -- I think there is more to it than that.

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