Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Switching genre gears to one of my favorites: the musical. I love musical films and one of my favorites is not in any way as guilty a pleasure for me as you might think: give me roller skates...give me Xanadu!

A place where nobody dared to go / the love that we came to know / They call it Xanadu

Now for those who have never heard of this film before I even discuss the plot I will tell you a little about why most people call this one of the worst movies. It was made in 1980 so it was on the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s so the cheese factor is very high and the script has as many holes as a piece of Swiss. There were constant rewrites according to star Olivia Newton-John as the script was written as it was filmed so I don't really think you can blame the actors when they had an ever-changing plot and possible characterization lost in so much script shuffling.

Film Plot: Frustrated but talented artist Sonny Malone is stuck at a job painting album covers for a record company but he wants so much more than to paint for others who have achieved their dreams. Things seem to change for him when one day he is kissed by a strange girl, finds the same girl on the newest album cover he is commissioned to paint and then keeps running into her. She soon introduces herself to Sonny as Kira and she becomes a new source of inspiration for our disillusioned painter and this also spreads to the next person who enters Sonny's life: Danny McGuire.

 Danny is a former 1940s big band leader now construction tycoon who has lost the inspiration that Sonny now has but thanks to both Sonny and Kira, Danny decides he wants to bring back the big band era he once loved and combine it with the new era of disco and he and Sonny decide to open up a roller disco nightclub that is a combination of not only both Danny and Sonny's generations but of their dreams and...is also a symbol of the love Sonny and Kira are finding within each other. Before the club, named the titular Xanadu, is set to open, Kira reveals to Sonny just why all of this has come about as she finally tells him the truth about herself: she is one of the nine Muses of Ancient Olympus that are said to inspire people to follow their dreams and desires.
The dream that came through a million years / That lived on through all the tears / It came to Xanadu

Having fallen in love with Sonny and breaking the rules of feeling emotions and doing more than what she was sent out to do, Kira is brought back to the home of the gods and on the opening night, Sonny sets out to bring Kira back to Earth because even though Xanadu maybe the reality of his dreams they mean nothing without Kira.

The love, the echoes of long ago / you needed the world to know / They are in Xanadu

Now I've told you the main plot and what the cons of Xanadu are perceived to be but now let me tell you why this movie is awesome in a few very short statements:

1) Olivia Newton-John
2) The Great Gene Kelly
3) An animated segment by Don Bluth of An American Tale fame which is beautiful animation that is not seen today because it is hand drawn and flawlessly enhances the music of the artists in my next point...
4) Electric Light Orchestra provides music to the soundtrack along with Olivia Newton-John, the great Cliff Richards and even The Tubes. The soundtrack is one good thing that everybody has always agreed on and the soundtrack album had many hits and even reached #4 on the Billboard charts.

Maybe because I was a young girl when I first sat down and watched this film with my mother and a child of the 1980s brought up on Day Glo and pastel Care Bears and My Little Ponies to boot is a big reason why I love Xanadu or maybe its because I have grown up and appreciated the music more or learned to appreciate the classic quality of Gene Kelly's dancing in his final movie role (even though he lived to see another great sixteen years). For what ever reason, Xanadu will always be a pleasure to watch and never ever will it be a guilty one.

                                      Where time stops and the magic never ends.
                                                                                                        ~ tagline for Xanadu, 1980

Next blog: Near Dark

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