Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's ground-breaking musical Evita finally makes it to the big screen. Starring Madonna as Eva Peron, Antonio Banderas as Che Guevara and Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron, the film, which was directed by Alan Parker. Evita--The Complete Motion Picture Soundtrack is a two-CD/cassette package containing all the music from the film.
was finally filmed in 1996, 20 years after its initial incarnation as a studio-bound rock opera. In between, of course, it was one of the most successful and long-running musicals on either side of the Atlantic. Given such a long history, the film might easily have been a stale anticlimax, fatally holed by our overfamiliarity with songs such as the ubiquitous "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." On the contrary, it was an impressive and immensely satisfying production. The numbers, augmented by a new song for Eva ("You Must Love Me"), sound fresh and the singing is excellent. Coming from Jonathan Pryce (Peron) and Jimmy Nail (Magaldi), this is hardly a surprise. The real revelation is Antonio Banderas as Che, a kind of one-man Greek chorus commenting on Eva's rise and the price she must pay. His warm tenor dispels memories of previous, rougher interpretations from such singers as David Essex
and Colm Wilkinson
. Ultimately, though, the star is Madonna. She is totally immersed in the role of Eva from start to finish, her singing ranging from girlish delicacy to a hard-edged stridence as the dictator's wife achieves her goals. Rarely has a film so successfully given a stage show such a new lease on life. --Piers Ford