We resume our regular Reel vs. Real feature this week with an award-winning musical drama film from 1996, which starred Madonna as Eva Peron, the famous First Lady of Argentina.
To continue with our focus on the most influential women in history for this month, today’s featured biographical film centers on the life of Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, the political leader and second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron. The world best knows and remembers her as the legendary First Lady of Argentina, Evita Peron, through the musical and film adaptation Evita.
The period film that catapulted Peron into international pop culture and earned Madonna critical acclaim, Evita was based on the 1976 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It portrays the life of Eva Duarte (Madonna), following her lowly beginnings as a young illegitimate child in the town of Junin, seeking of better life in Buenos Aires, establishing a career as a model, actress and radio personality, and eventually meeting with Colonel Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce).
Peron was steadily gaining political momentum at the time of his meeting with Eva at a fundraising event after the 1944 San Juan earthquake. Using her skills, Eva promotes Peron during her radio show, even after he was imprisoned by the administration, afraid of his increasing influence. Eva generates enough support that forced the government to grant his release. Soon, Peron — with Eva alongside him — wins the trust of the people and gets elected as president. Eva pledges that the new government will work in the service of the poor.
The film also touches base on the dark episodes that later clouded Eva’s life, such as the illness that caused her death in 1952. Interestingly, her story was told through the perspective of a common man named Che (Antonio Banderas), who began his narration following her passing.
Discussion for film production went under way soon after the London musical was staged in 1978, and several actresses were considered for the title role. Madonna campaigned extensively for the part, and even wrote to Alan Parker telling how she would make a perfect Eva Peron. Parker recalls:
“[Her] letter was extraordinarily passionate and sincere. As far as she was concerned, no one could play Evita as well as she could, and she said that she would sing, dance and act her heart out, and put everything else on hold to devote all her time to it should I decide to go with her. And that’s exactly what she did do.”
On her experience of portraying Eva Peron, Madonna said:
“This is the role I was born to play. I put everything of me into this because it was much more than a role in a movie. It was exhilarating and intimidating at the same time … And I am prouder of Evita than anything else I have done.”
Evita garnered both positive and mixed critical response, but was a box office success, and also bagged a number of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Song (“You Must Love Me”), and Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Actress — Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film also holds the Guinness World Record title for “Most costume changes in a film,” as Madonna changed costumes 85 times.
Watch the trailer for Evita below:
All information for this article were sourced from “Wikipedia”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evita_(film).