The International Writers Magazine:Musicals
- Directed by Alan Parker
Screenplay by Alan Parker (based on the stage musical by Andrew
Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice)
Cast: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan
Pryce, Jimmy Nail, Andrea Corr
"It is our sad duty to inform the people of the Republic
that Eva Perón, the Spiritual Leader of the Nation, died
at 8:25 P.M."
film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webbers stage musical
is a representation of the life of Maria Eva Duarte de Peron. It is
also an insight into the political system and social class issues of
Argentina (and the rest of the world) from 1945 to 1952. Eva Duarte
married a Soldier and rising political figure, Juan Peron. She was one
of the key campaigners for his cause (to liberate the working people
from a suppressive government) and was instrumental in getting him elected
President of Argentina. The people of the country adored her because
she had come from the same social class as them and could speak to them
as an equal.
Eva Duarte was born in Los Toldos, on May 7 1919, into a poor family.
She dreamed of being an actress and was constantly dressing up and reading
poetry to her family and other less fortunate families than her own.
She eventually became a famous actress on the radio and the stage. The
film shows her rise to fame in a song showing a succession of lovers
and becoming "the ultimate social climber".
The film is not entirely accurate to the true events. For example, Juan
Peron and Eva Duarte met at a great festival held at Luna Park Stadium
with all benefits destined for the victims of a devastating earthquake.
Eva Duarte and Colonel Perón began a relationship which would
be socially confirmed at a gala held at the Colón Opera House
on July 9 to celebrate Argentina's Independence Day. The film has them
meeting at the Independence Day celebrations and beginning their relationship
from that night.
Eva (Madonna) is followed throughout the film by the narrator (Antonio
Banderas) who appears in the form of a waiter or another person appropriate
people to the scene. It is very effective having this familiar character
running through commenting on the actions of Eva and filling in the
gaps in the plot. He is also not impartial he gives opinions. There
is some speculation that he is supposed to represent Che Guevara but
there is no firm evidence to support this. It is almost as if he is
Evas subconscious because as she collapses with illness he collapses
in the street after a fight. Their actions almost mirror each other.
The film is very well cast; Madonna and Jonathan Pryce look almost exactly
like their real life counterparts. Madonna had obviously put a great
deal of work into studying Eva Peron because her gestures are exactly
that of the pictures of Eva when she is speaking. The speeches given
by Madonna in the film have quotes from the real speeches made by Eva
years ago. The script also cleverly incorporates some Spanish into the
characters speech; this is a very effective mode for setting the
The main issue that runs throughout the story of Eva Duarte de Peron
is the clash of the classes. She was forbidden from going to her Fathers
funeral because he had another family who were middle-class and her
mother was not legally married to her Father. The Upper classes did
not like her at all when she began her relationship with Juan Peron
as demonstrated by the song Dangerous Jane. This
scorn is still poured on her even until she dies. The film portrays
this well because the class issue is always in the background of every
situation, often in the form of the narrator.
Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice musical combination has again created
some truly incredible music. Lloyd-Webber has used many Latino rhythms
in the songs. This adds to the setting of the scene, as well as
the Spanish speech. Latino rhythms are very infectious so as a watcher
you feel like dancing when they do. He generally tends to make the
fast numbers feel quite Latin-American and the slow ones less so.
This is very appropriate
to the story because Eva has Latin-American roots but as she climbs
the social ladder her clothes become more European and so do the songs
that she sings. Towards the end of the film there is barely any trace
of Latino rhythms, just like it has almost all gone from her. I think
that that is emphasised by the fact that the songs are mostly in English.
Evita is a generally accurate but romantic portrayal of the life
of Eva Duarte de Peron and the inclusion of music makes it a very enjoyable
film to watch despite the serious nature of the story being told.
© Suzannah Brooksbank December 2005
Suzannah is a Creative Arts Major at the University of Portsmouth
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