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Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 12, 2012 by  



“Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” may not be the greatest musical on film, but it is a memorable film with beautiful music, beautiful cinematography and a wonderful performance by Madonna.  Recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1996

DURATION: 135 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Thematic Elements, Images of Violence and Some Mild Language)

Release Date: July 17, 2012

Directed by Alan Parker

Based on the Musical Play “Evita” by Tim Rice

Screenplay by Alan Parker and Oliver Stone

Produced by Alan Parker, Robert Stigwood, Andrew G. Vajna, David Wimbury

Line Producer: David Wimbury

Associate Producer: Lisa Moran

Cinematography by Darius Khondji

Edited by Gerry Hambling

Casting by John Hubbard, Ros Hubbard

Production Design by Brian Morris

Art Direction by Richard Earl and Jean-Michel Hugon

Set Decoration by Philippe Turlure

Costume Design by Penny Rose

Starring:

Madonna as Eva Peron

Antonio Banderas as Che

Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron

Jimmy Nail as Agustin Magaldi

Victoria Sus as Dona Juana

Julian Littman as Brother Juan

Olga Merediz as Blanca

Laura Pallas as Elisa

Julia Worsley as Erminda

Maria Lujan Hidalgo as Young Eva

Servando Villamil as Cipriano Reyes

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Alan Parker, Evita is the riveting true-life story of Eva Peron (Madonna), who rose above childhood poverty and a scandalous past to achieve unimaginable fortune and fame. Despite widespread controversy, her passion changed a nation forever. Garnering an Academy Award® for Best Song (Best Music/Original Song, Andrew Lloyd Webber for music and Tim Rice for lyrics, “You Must Love Me”, 1996) and 3 Golden Globe Awards (Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Best Original Song – Motion Picture “You Must Love Me” and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Madonna, 1997), critics across the world hailed Evita as an indelible masterpiece. Now, with a new state-of-the-art digital restoration, you can experience every astonishing scene and unforgettable song like never before!
Talent/

On July 26, 1952, a 33-year-old woman named Maria Eva Durarte de Peron would become part of international pop culture.  On that very day, the second wife of Argentina President Juan Peron and the First Lady of Argentina would pass away due to cancer.  And her memory continues to live on today!

Eva “Evita” Peron, her story has captured the attention of people worldwide.  Growing up poor, leaving her family at the age of 15 from a rural village to the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires, hoping to pursue a career as an actress and at the age of 25, meeting then-Colonel Juan Peron at a charity event for earthquake victims, the two would marry a year later.

And Juan Peron would become President of Argentina, but as the First Lady, Eva would become powerful within the trad unions, speaking on behalf of labor rights, running the Ministries of Labor and Health, running her own charity and showing that a woman can be come a true leader.  She was championed by the low-income and working class of Argentina and despite her ailing health, she continued to remain strong despite being opposed by Argentina’s military and the upperclass.

So, popular Evita was in international pop culture, a 1981 telefilm titled “The Woman with the Whip” starring Faye Dunaway was created.  And also a successful musical production titled “Evita” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber would once again pay tribute to Eva Peron.  So, successful that the musical generated over $2 billion in revenue back in 1980.

But since 1978, there was always hope to bring “Evita” to the big screen and after a 20-year production delay, in 1996, director and co-writer Alan Parker (“Angela’s Ashes”, “Mississippi Burning”, “Angel Heart”) and co-writer Oliver Stone (“Platoon”, “JFK”, “National Born Killers”) were able to take Evita to the big screen thanks to the casting of Madonna (“Body of Evidence”, “A League of their Own”, “Dick Tracy”), Antonio Banderas (“Desperado”, “The Mask of Zorro”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”) and Jonathan Pryce (“Brazil”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” films).

“Evita” is a musical narrated by Che (as portrayed by Antonio Banderas), who tells the story of Eva Duarte (as portrayed by Madonna) from a child of a poor family, leaving her home to become an actress in Buenos Aires, where she would have an affair with Agustin Magaldi (as portrayed by Jimmy Nail) but eventually, through an earthquake benefit, meeting Colonel Juan Peron (as portrayed by Jonathan Pryce) and a year later, marrying him.

The musical would show audiences the rise and power of Juan Peron as he becomes Argentina’s President and how the First Lady of Argentina together, would create a new government that would serve the poor.

But through her hard work, Che narrates her sickness and leading to her death.

VIDEO:

“Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1).  When I first watched this film years ago, I noticed how this film looked so beautiful, so grand because of the many people that were featured.  The eloquence of showcasing Eva Peron throughout her life but also amongst the political chaos to the thousands of people who supported her and of course, her husband.  But the cinematography of Darius Khondji (“Se7en”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Alien: Resurrection”) is beautiful.

Compared to the original DVD release, the film features much more clarity, much more detail but it is a film that utilizes a lot of earth tones, so colors are warmer than vibrant.  The video is definitely an upgrade from the original DVD and fans of the film will definitely want to upgrade for the improve picture quality.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film is a musical and with a musical, you expect it to sound incredible via lossless. And as expected, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber sounds incredible in HD.  While primarily a dialogue and music-driven film through the front channels, I didn’t notice the surround channels being used as much but towards the end of the film, I did notice a bit of LFE.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Evita – (42:13)  A documentary featuring behind-the-scenes making of the film, interviews with the cast, director and knowings the challenges that existed in bringing this musical to the big screen but also the challenges that Madonna and talents had to face as well.  As well as the importance of location, look and costume design.  Very informative feature.
  • Music Video – (3:16) Featuring Madonna’s “You Must Love Me”.
  • Teaser Trailer – (1:54) A teaser trailer for “Evita”.

Whenever I hear the song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, I think of Madonna singing this song on the balcony, as her character of Eva Peron, knowing that her final days are coming and just wanting to say one last goodbye to the people who have supported her.

“Evita” is a musical that I enjoyed for its ambition and cinematography.  To shoot in Argentina, to include so many extras to make the political rallying and the funeral of Evita seem real, this was accomplished remarkably well in the film.

Madonna does a fantastic job in playing the main character role of Evita.  From the look and the emotion, Madonna was able to bring sexiness but also an emotional demeanor to her character with efficacy.  And of course, hearing her sing, I absolutely enjoyed her songs.

But not everyone’s songs.

Antonio Banderas was fine as the narrator, Che, who in the movie, was close to the Peron’s, and as much as I enjoyed Antonio Banderas in “Desperado” (and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”) and the “Zorro” films, he is more of an action star in my book.  Not as a singer.  And as much as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice really tried to bring out the machismo of Banderas through music, I wasn’t so much of a fan of Banderas’ singing vocals for the film then and the same now.

And while Jonathan Pryce is a fine actor, I just didn’t feel the chemistry was right between Pryce and Madonna.  So perhaps, the casting never set well with me to begin with.  And watching this film again in 2012, I still feel the same way.

As for the Blu-ray release, while the special features are the same as the DVD release, this film is primarily for the fans who want to watch this film in HD and enjoy the better transfer of this film and hear the music in lossless.

Overall, “Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” is a film that I will forever remember as possibly Madonna’s greatest performance in a film.  She embodied and gracefully portrayed the role of Eva Peron with success and because of her involvement, I enjoyed this musical much more.  The cinematography for this film by Darius Khondji is absolutely beautiful and Alan Parker did a great job directing this film, it’s just the casting that I felt was off.  But still, I did enjoy this film a lot.

“Evita” is a fine musical that really showcases the life of Eva Peron in a positive way and it helps to have a film, especially a talent such as Madonna playing the role and doing a great job in her performance.  And while I may not feel the same way about the vocal performance by Banderas and by Pryce (although I enjoyed Pryce a lot more than Banderas), both did a great job with their character role as well.

“Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition” may not be the greatest musical on film, but it is a memorable film with beautiful music, beautiful cinematography and a wonderful performance by Madonna.  Recommended.

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