‘Chicago’ (2002) is an exciting and dramatic musical directed by Rob Marshall. Originally on Broadway, this story of two women on murderers row was transformed into a Hollywood movie that received 56 awards, including 6 Oscars.
This musical is set in the 1920’s’. Two women, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row after casually murdering their lovers. The womens’struggle to win their court cases for freedom is told through musical numbers and cleverly choreographed dances. Other secondary characters include Billy Flynn, a charming lawyer and Matron Mamma Morton, the ‘mother hen’ of all the jail-birds.
The film is very exciting and visually stunning. So much precision was put into every scene and costume that one could take incredible photos from the stills of almost any scene in the film. One such song is ‘Roxie Hart’. The song shows the ambition of the self- obsessed protagonist and her dream to become a star. There is a very clever sequence where she interacts with mirrors to replicate herself. This portrays her vanity clearly and emphasizes that only she should be in the spotlight and that she only needs herself to become a celebrity.
Another fantastic song is ‘Both Reached for the Gun’. The actors perform in a puppet theatre where Billy Flynn acts as a ventriloquist, using Roxy Hart as his puppet. This makes a witty reference to the idea that lawyers feed their clients their words. At one point you see Billy Flynn controlling all the puppets from above, even the reporters, which shows he is completely in control of how the case will play out.
The ‘Cell Block Tango’ is an incredible musical number as it artistically tells the story of the prisoners’ crimes through the dance and song. With complex dance routines and passionate back stories a dramatic and thrilling sequence is made. They all sing ‘He had it coming’ making it clear they show no remorse for their crimes. One striking visual is the women dancing behind bars, backlit with a red light to create dramatic silhouettes. The costumes are very revealing and only use black materials. There are references to flapper girls through some fringing and the shapes created with the straps and necklines. Only the Hungarian prisoner pleads not guilty, and so her costume is a white ballerina tutu, portraying her innocence.
Having seen the stage performance years ago, I still prefer the film. I feel the movie captures the drama and atmosphere brilliantly through careful editing, amazing costumes and sets, and very talented actors. I find the images created very inspiring and feel this film is a work of art. I appreciate and admire this film more and more every time I watch it.