Evita (1996 film)

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Evita
Evita poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Parker
Produced by Alan Parker
Robert Stigwood
Andrew G. Vajna
Screenplay by Alan Parker
Oliver Stone
Based on Evita 
by Andrew Lloyd Webber and
Tim Rice
Starring Madonna
Antonio Banderas
Jonathan Pryce
Jimmy Nail
Narrated by Antonio Banderas
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Edited by Gerry Hambling
Production
  company
Cinergi Pictures
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures
Release date(s)
  • December 25, 1996 (1996-12-25) (Limited)
  • January 10, 1997 (1997-01-10)
Running time 134 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55 million[2]
Box office $141,047,179[2]

Evita is a 1996 American musical drama film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same name about Eva Perón. Directed by Alan Parker and written by Parker and Oliver Stone, the film starred Madonna, Antonio Banderas, and Jonathan Pryce. The film was released on December 25, 1996 by Hollywood Pictures and Cinergi Pictures. The film received a positive critical response and was a box office success.

Plot[edit]

Evita portrays the life of Eva Duarte (later Eva Duarte de Perón) from a child of the lower classes to becoming the wife of Juan Perón and First Lady and spiritual leader of Argentina.

Eva's death is announced in a movie theater and a public funeral is held in Buenos Aires. Che, an Everyman, narrates the story of Eva's rise to power and later illness and death. He appears in many different guises and serves as Eva's conscience and critic. As a young illegitimate child, Eva tries to attend her father's funeral in the town of Junín with her mother and siblings. Her father's wife and other family deny her family's permission to enter, but Eva pays her last respects to her father.

Years later, Eva decides to leave Junín to seek a better life in Buenos Aires with a tango singer, Agustín Magaldi, with whom she is having an affair. After Magaldi leaves her, she goes through several relationships with increasingly influential men, becoming a model, actress and radio personality. She meets with the older and handsome Colonel Juan Perón at a fundraiser following the recent 1944 San Juan earthquake. Perón's connection with Eva adds to his populist image, since she is from the working class (as he is). Eva has a radio show during Perón's rise and uses all her skills to promote Perón, even when the controlling administration has him jailed in an attempt to stunt his political momentum. The groundswell of support Eva generates forces the government to release Perón, and he finds the people enamored of him and Eva. Perón wins election to the presidency and Eva promises the new government will serve the descamisados (literally, "those without shirts"—i.e., the poor).

At the start of the Perón government, Eva dresses glamorously, enjoying the privileges of being the first lady. Soon after, Eva embarks on what was called her "Rainbow Tour" to Europe. While there she had mixed receptions; the people of Spain adore her; the people of Italy call her a whore and throw things (such as eggs) at her, while the Pope gives her a small, meager gift; and the French, while kind to her, were upset that she was forced to leave early. There are hints of the illness that eventually caused her death. Upon returning to Argentina, Eva establishes a foundation and distributes aid; the film suggests the Perónists otherwise plunder the public treasury. The military officer corps and social elites despise Eva's common roots and affinity for the poor.

Eva is hospitalized and learns she is terminally ill. She declines the position of Vice President because she is too weak, and makes one final broadcast to the people of Argentina. She understands that her life was short because she shone like the "brightest fire," and helps Perón prepare to go on without her. A large crowd surrounds the Casa Rosada in a candlelight vigil praying for her recovery when the light of her room goes out, signifying her death. Eva's funeral is shown again. Ché is seen at her coffin, marveling at the influence of her brief life. He walks up to her glass coffin, kisses it, and walks into the crowd of passing mourners.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

Discussion of the film began soon after the original production was staged in London in 1978. Several actresses were considered for the role of Eva Perón.

Director Ken Russell has said that his own first choice for the film lead was Karla DeVito, who had come to fame in rock tours and on Broadway, where she had impressed the wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber. DeVito had a screen test for the role while in England shooting music videos for her solo album Is This A Cool World or What? DeVito's performance of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" in the screen test caused much positive buzz. Russell wrote that she brought viewers to tears—except Tim Rice, who wanted Elaine Paige, with whom he was romantically involved. Although Russell rejected the idea, Paige was screen tested twice.

Russell's biography indicates that he met with Barbra Streisand, who dismissed the idea of the role immediately. He wrote that he then suggested Liza Minnelli. A year had passed between the first screen tests and Minnelli's, which Russell reports was "amazing." Russell approached Stigwood with Minnelli's test, convinced she had the necessary talent and star quality, but he was soon after told the role was going to Paige. Having already protested that idea, Russell quit the film. (Years later when he saw DeVito again, Russell addressed her as "My Evita.")

Rumors through the years include Lloyd Webber considering Charo, Meryl Streep,[3] Cher, Glenn Close, Olivia Newton-John, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Though Oliver Stone was attached to the film to direct at one point;[4] he ultimately shared screenwriting credit with Alan Parker, the final directorial choice. Years later, Pfeiffer reportedly recorded a number of demonstration musical tracks, and it's been said she almost was cast for the role by Parker, but he wanted to shoot the picture on location, not in Pfeiffer's preferred Hollywood studio.

Patti LuPone wasn't offered the role of Eva Perón, even though LuPone created it in the original Broadway production. As an actress by then in her forties, it was decided LuPone was too old for the title role; Perón herself passed away at the age of 33. When asked during a later interview, LuPone admitted she has never seen the film adaptation of Evita.[5] For an extended period of time, Madonna campaigned to play Eva Perón. Madonna eventually wrote a letter to Alan Parker, explaining how she would be perfect for the part. Parker took note of Madonna's genuine fervor for the role:

[Her] letter was extraordinarily passionate and sincere. As far as she was concerned, no one could play Evita as well as she could, and she said that she would sing, dance and act her heart out, and put everything else on hold to devote all her time to it should I decide to go with her. And that's exactly what she did do.[6]

After Madonna was cast as Eva Perón, LuPone was then approached to play the role of Eva's mother, but she declined.[5]

Upon securing the role, Madonna underwent intense vocal training and studied the history of Argentina, as well as Eva Perón.

English singer/actress Billie Piper and Irish singer Andrea Corr had minor parts in the film at what was the start of both of their careers.

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began in February 1996 and was finished in May.[7] Madonna was paid a salary of $1 million for her role in the project. She personally lobbied then-Argentine president Carlos Menem for permission to film at the Casa Rosada, the executive mansion.[8] Upon arrival in Argentina, the cast and crew faced protests over fears that the project would tarnish Eva Perón's image.[8] They filmed in Buenos Aires for five weeks before moving to Budapest for a month.[8]

Madonna related the difficulties in changing locations:

"We went from 100-degree weather in Argentina, the Latin culture, very embracing, warm, passionate, to a country where people are just learning to be expressive without being afraid. Everybody has a sad expression on their face. And it's difficult to work in an environment where there is no joy. It was the toughest experience of my life."[8]

During shooting, Madonna fell sick many times due to the intense emotional effort required.[9] She published a diary of the film shoot in Vanity Fair.[8]

Madonna said of the experience, "This is the role I was born to play. I put everything of me into this because it was much more than a role in a movie. It was exhilarating and intimidating at the same time ... And I am prouder of Evita than anything else I have done."[10]

Midway through production, Madonna discovered she was pregnant. Her daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon was born on October 14, 1996.[11]

Music[edit]

For the soundtrack album to the 1996 film, see Evita (soundtrack).

The music for the film was completed in a London recording studio in the fall of 1995.[8]

The soundtrack album was released in two versions; a two-disc edition titled Evita: The Motion Picture Music Soundtrack and a single-disc containing highlights from the soundtrack titled Evita: Music from the Motion Picture. The double-disc edition includes the entire soundtrack to the film, except for two instrumental pieces heard during the film: a short instrumental medley of "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You" and "You Must Love Me" used during the marriage scene (which happens in the middle of "A New Argentina"), and a longer medley of the same two songs in reversed order, segueing into the chorus of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina", used for the end credits.

CD 1

All lyrics written by Tim Rice, all music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "A Cinema in Buenos Aires, 26 July 1952"   John Mauceri 1:20
2. "Requiem for Evita"   John Mauceri 4:16
3. "Oh What a Circus"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 5:44
4. "On This Night of a Thousand Stars"   Jimmy Nail 2:24
5. "Eva and Magaldi / Eva Beware of the City"   Madonna, Jimmy Nail, Antonio Banderas 5:20
6. "Buenos Aires"   Madonna 4:09
7. "Another Suitcase in Another Hall"   Madonna 3:33
8. "Goodnight and Thank You"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 4:18
9. "The Lady's Got Potential"   Antonio Banderas 4:24
10. "Charity Concert / The Art of the Possible"   Jimmy Nail, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas 2:33
11. "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You"   Madonna, Jonathan Pryce 4:18
12. "Hello and Goodbye"   Madonna, Andrea Corr, Jonathan Pryce 1:46
13. "Peron's Latest Flame"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 5:17
14. "Dice Are Rolling / A New Argentina"   Madonna, Jonathan Pryce 8:09
CD 2

All lyrics written by Tim Rice, all music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada (Part 1)"   Jonathan Pryce 1:28
2. "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"   Madonna 5:31
3. "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada (Part 2)"   Madonna 2:00
4. "High Flying, Adored"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 3:32
5. "Rainbow High"   Madonna 2:26
6. "Rainbow Tour"   Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Gary Brooker, Peter Polycarpou 4:50
7. "The Actress Hasn't Learned the Lines (You'd Like to Hear)"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 2:31
8. "And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)"   Antonio Banderas 3:53
9. "Partido Feminista"   Madonna 1:40
10. "She Is a Diamond"   Jonathan Pryce 1:39
11. "Santa Evita"   John Mauceri 2:30
12. "Waltz for Eva and Che"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 4:31
13. "Your Little Body's Slowly Breaking Down"   Madonna, Jonathan Pryce 1:24
14. "You Must Love Me"   Madonna 2:50
15. "Eva's Final Broadcast"   Madonna 3:05
16. "Latin Chant"   John Mauceri 2:11
17. "Lament"   Madonna, Antonio Banderas 5:17

Additional note:

  • "Dice Are Rolling" comes immediately before "A New Argentina" on the 2-CD edition, hence the longer running time. This is not mentioned in the liner notes.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[12]
MTV Movie Awards
  • Best Female Performance – Madonna (Nomination)
Golden Globe Awards
  • Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Won)
  • Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Madonna) (Won)
  • Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Nomination)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture (Nomination)
  • Best Original Song ("You Must Love Me") (Won)
BAFTA Awards
  • Best Cinematography (Nomination)
  • Best Costume Design (Nomination)
  • Best Editing (Nomination)
  • Best Makeup and Hair (Nomination)
  • Best Production Design (Nomination)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Nomination)
  • Best Sound (Nomination)
  • Best Film Music (Nomination)
Other awards

Release[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Evita received positive critical reception and currently holds a 64% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[13] Metacritic has assigned the film a score of 45, indicating mixed or average reviews, based on 23 critics.[14] Roger Ebert gave the film 3-and-a-half stars (out of 4), praising the work of director Parker and the stars Madonna and Banderas.[15] Critic Zach Conner commented "It's a relief to say that Evita is pretty damn fine, well-cast, and handsomely visualized. Madonna once again confounds our expectations. She plays Evita with a poignant weariness and has more than just a bit of star quality. Love or hate Madonna-Eva, she is a magnet for all eyes."[16] Time's Richard Corliss wrote, "But this Evita is not just a long, complex music video; it works and breathes like a real movie, with characters worthy of our affection and deepest suspicions."[17] On the other hand, Newsweek's David Ansen wrote, "It's gorgeous. It's epic. It's spectacular. But two hours later, it also proves to be emotionally impenetrable."[18]

Evita was nominated for five Academy Awards and won the award for "Best Original Song" with "You Must Love Me", which Lloyd Webber and Rice re-teamed after a gap of 20 years to write especially for the film. Evita had five Golden Globe nominations and three wins (Best Picture – Comedy or Musical; Best Original Song, "You Must Love Me"; and Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, Madonna). It was one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of the Year.

The government of Argentina undertook its own film project, treating Perón's biography as a drama; Eva Perón: The True Story was released in October 1996 in Argentina and in the US in December 1996, around the same time as the American film.

Box office[edit]

On a budget of $55 million, Evita opened at #2 with $8,381,055 in its wide opening weekend against The Relic. The film made $50,047,179 in the United States and an additional $91 million overseas, for a total of $141,047,179 worldwide.[2]

Home media[edit]

The film has no overall worldwide distributor, but was released on VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD. Some DVD versions contain special features such as a making-of, the "You Must Love Me" music video, etc. Evita was one of the first films ever to be released on the DVD format. A Blu-ray 15th Anniversary Edition was released on May 22, 2012 in the United States.[19]

World record[edit]

The film earned Madonna a Guinness World Record title, "Most costume changes in a film".[4] In Evita, Madonna changes costumes 85 times (which included 39 hats, 45 pairs of shoes, and 56 pairs of earrings). The record was previously held by Elizabeth Taylor for the 1963 film Cleopatra (65 costume changes).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "EVITA (PG)". Entertainment Film Distributors. British Board of Film Classification. December 13, 1996. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Meryl Streep Interview, Devil Wears Prada Movie," By Tim Nasson
  4. ^ a b Maslin, Janet. "Evita: Madonna, Chic Pop Star, As Chic Political Star," New York Times (Dec. 25, 1996).
  5. ^ a b http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1asS7GdEO5I
  6. ^ Parker, Alan."The Making of 'Evita,'" AlanParker.com. Accessed Jan. 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Madonna movies - Evita", Mad-Eyes.net. Accessed Jan. 7, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "MAD FOR EVITA", TIME, 30 December 1996, pp. 1-2
  9. ^ Taraborrelli, Randy J. (2002). Madonna: An Intimate Biography. Simon and Schuster, p. 276. ISBN 0-7432-2880-4
  10. ^ St. Michael, Mick (2004). Madonna Talking: Madonna in Her Own Words. Omnibus Press, p. 67. ISBN 1-84449-418-7
  11. ^ Roni Sarig mentions "singing lessons on the Evita set". Retrieved March 7, 2007
  12. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  13. ^ Evita at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ Evita at Metacritic
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Evita," Chicago Sun-Times (January 3, 1997).
  16. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 285.
  17. ^ Corliss, Richard. "Cinema: Madona and Eva Peron: You Must Love Her," Time (December 16, 1996).
  18. ^ Ansen, David. "Madonna Tangos With Evita," Newsweek (December 15, 1996), p. 41.
  19. ^ Evita entry, Blu-Ray.com. Accessed December 22, 2013.

External links[edit]