Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome... to the first of a season of films released in 1972, Bob Fosse's adaptation of Kander and Ebb's stage musical. Set in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar era (1931), Cabaret follows the exploits of performer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress) and academic Brian Roberts (Michael York) who lodge together in a boarding house in the city. In vivid and occasionally shocking fashion, the film captures the way political violence, antisemitism and Nazism encroached on the liberated, artistic and bohemian culture that characterised Berlin in this period. In this respect, Cabaret is emblematic of the moment it was produced: while Hollywood still sought to appeal to audiences through effervescent entertainment featuring charismatic stars, it knew that the uncritical utopianism it had peddled to great effect in the classical period no longer resonated with audiences who had become inured to political corruption and social unrest at home and war overseas. In our own troubled times, Cabaret remains a film of enduring significance for showing the ease with which a civilised society can give into authoritarian and violent impulses, and how, distracted by the drama of our own lives, we may not realise until it is too late.
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Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
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