A Musical Phenomenon

         Chicago is a musical directed by Rob Marshall in 2002. This is a movie about two women on death row for murder. They are both trying to get free and use their fame to become famous in show business. The cinematic movie contained some interesting ideas and views that revolutionalized the movie and musical industry.

         The movie starts in Chicago during the roaring twenties with Roxie Hart played by Renée Zellweger, as a young lady trying to make it into the entertainment world through her lover, Fred Casely (Dominic West). The night we meet both of them, we also meet Velma Kelly, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is a performer. At the end of her performance she gets arrested for the murder of her sister and husband. Shortly after that, the viewers find out it is one month later and Roxie proceeds to shoot her boyfriend because he has lied to her about making her a star. Then both women are in jail, where they both try to keep the attention of their lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). By the end of the film, through trickery of Billy Flynn, both ladies do not get charged and end up working together in show business, though they both hate each other.

         There are many aspects about this movie that just make it magnificent. The first aspect is the distinctive and colorful clothing. A person can definitely tell that the time period is set in the roaring twenties. Since the movie goes back and forth between the stage and personal life, there is a difference in the clothing. When it comes to the musical numbers, there is almost always a shine to the clothes. The clothes also seemed for accurate for the time period too, especially when a person looks at what a flapper would wear versus what a lady on trial trying to get sympathy would wear. My favorite outfit in the film is worn by Matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah). Since Mama is a big woman I loved the way it shined on her and showed her off very well. In addition, the men wore the right kind of clothes, depending on what their job was.

         The music was breathtaking and fit each person so well. Each singer had a voice that completely fit the part. Chicago was just like any other musical and the music fit with what was going on in the movie. A good example of this is Roxie's husband, named Amos (John C. Reilly), and when he sings "Mr. Cellophane." It is the only song that Amos sings, but it fits so perfectly. The reason is that throughout the movie, the viewer gets a sense about Amos that he is the man no one ever sees and everyone uses. Right before the song, a person sees Amos talking with Billy, who is getting his name wrong and completely pushes him off to the side. This leads into the song "Mr. Cellophane," where Amos talks about how people can see right through him and no one really knows him.

         The dancing was choreographed so wonderful and completely fit the song as well as the actor. A wonderful example of this occurs when a person sees that Billy Flynn is singing about how the courtroom is a circus and that he is the leader. To help emphasize the entertainment factor, the viewers get to see Billy tap dance. This was a good choice for two reasons: the first being that it fit the character so well, second because the actor (Richard Gere) did not have to be really flexible to achieve this type of dance. This is really good considering his age.

         Now the main item that really gives this movie such a unique spin is the fact that the movie is shown through the vision of Roxie's fantasy world. A person can especially see this in the opening scene because the viewer looks into her eye and, then it switches to a club scene. Not only does the viewer see this at the beginning but also the viewer notices this throughout the entire movie. Whenever a person sees her in a scene, she takes what is happening to her and transform it into a dance number or something someone would see on stage. A prime example of this is evident Billy Flynn takes Roxie to go talk to the press for the first time. He takes over the conference, where she barely has anything to say. Next thing a viewer knows is that there is a stage. On the stage is Billy Flynn with Roxie on his lap like a puppet and in the background are the reporters that also look like puppets.

         It is also interesting to see how the director has pieced together two completely different scenes, yet they are complete in sync. An example of this is the opening number that Velma Kelly sings. It is constantly going between scenes of her and Roxie, who is cheating on her husband. At certain points of the music there would be a strong beat, which would show Roxie hitting something to emphasize sound. Another interesting item that they did was that there is a certain correlation between what a person sees between the two to help piece them together. An example of this would also include the opening. When the scene is switched other to Roxie Hart and while she is having sex, she places her hand on the bars behind. Now the scene switches to Velma Kelly, and it shows her reaching up for to arms that look similar to bars to help lift her up. It definitely bought the two pieces together, since they are so different.

         The movie ends with Roxie and Velma throwing together a show about their "supposed" killings. The ending definitely tied the whole movie together especially considering that in this time period people did find possible killers interesting. People would become famous overnight just because that is what Chicago found entertaining and what sold newspapers. This movie has all the components of a great film and it has fit together so perfectly. No wonder it has won so many awards.

Michelle Maden

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