Before I start with my review though I am going to explain the story behind the musical because it seems like there are many people who are going to see the movie/have seen the movie because of the intense media coverage on it, because of the sheer amount of famous actors and actresses it contains and because cats is a well known very successful musical and all this is convincing people to see it- which is good BUT I feel that people should know the story behind the musical first to make the film more enjoyable and more understandable (I’ll explain more into this later on).
What is the story behind ‘CATS’?
‘Cats’ the musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on the 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.
It tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make the “Jellicle choice”, deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. The musical includes the well-known song “Memory” as sung by Grizabella.
As of 2019, Cats remains the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show.
Andrew Lloyd Webber began setting Eliot’s poems to music in 1977 and the compositions were first presented as a song cycle in 1980. Producer Cameron Mackintosh then recruited director Trevor Nunn and choreographer Gillian Lynne to turn the songs into a complete musical in 1980.
Despite its unusual premise that deterred investors initially, the musical turned out to be an unprecedented commercial success, with a worldwide gross of US $3.5 billion by 2012.
The London production ran for 21 years and 8,949 performances, while the Broadway production ran for 18 years and 7,485 performances, making Cats the longest-running musical in both theatre districts for a number of years. Cats has since been revived in the West End twice and on Broadway once.
More on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot:
The contents of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, along with the names of the featured cats where appropriate, are:
“The Naming of Cats”
“The Old Gumbie Cat” (Jennyanydots)
“Growltiger’s Last Stand”
“The Rum Tum Tugger”
“The Song of the Jellicles”
“Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer”
“(Of) The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles (Together with Some Account of the Participation of the Pugs and the Poms and the Intervention of the Great Rumpus Cat)”
“Macavity: The Mystery Cat”
“Gus: The Theatre Cat”
“Bustopher Jones: The Cat about Town”
“Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat”
“The Ad-dressing of Cats”
“Cat Morgan Introduces Himself” (added in the 1952 edition)
Eliot was a ‘cat man’. He owned many during his life and gave them such fondly ridiculous names as Jellylorum, Pettipaws, Wiscus, and George Pushdragon. No one would call the cat, as they do the dog, ‘man’s best friend’. Their relation to humans is always wary and frankly selfish. It is clear that Eliot, like Michel de Montaigne, was fascinated by the dignified remoteness of his feline companions. Was he playing with his cat, wondered Montaigne, or was his cat playing with him?
Considered one of the twentieth century’s major poets, Eliot also attracted widespread attention for his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915), which was seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), “The Hollow Men” (1925), “Ash Wednesday” (1930), and Four Quartets (1943).
He was also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Cocktail Party (1949). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”.
My review of Cats the movie.
Personally I loved the movie, I’ve always loved poetry and I love how T.S. Elliot’s cat poems are so imaginative and whimsical. I love how the poems have been adapted into a musical and now represented in a film so many people have access to the story of the musical and can appreciate it.
During the film you can’t help but fall in love with the characters as you are introduced to, each and everyone. Although it took some getting used to, I thought it was good that the characters still looked somewhat human so you could tell what actor/actresses were playing them- although I do think they would have looked better with paws rather than hands.
I personally thought at the beginning some of the songs were too long winded and affected the story telling somewhat. When you start watching a film you want to be hooked in by the story, I was brought in by the first song and started to follow the story but I felt confused after 15-20 minutes where the story was and it deterred my attention. The songs were good but some could have been shortened. I thought the actress who played the main character (Francesca Hayward) was fantastic and also Jason Derulo and Jennifer Hudson were simply breath taking.
Taylor Swift’s song (which was made specifically for the film with Anthony Lloyd Webber) was a good edition to the movie and enjoyable but not as enjoyable as Jennifer Huddison or Jason Derulo. My favourite song is from the railway cat!
I loved that along with the whimsical side of the poems some comedy was brought in by Rebel Wilson and James Gordon. Both their characters were comical and enjoyable to watch and fitted in well with the storyline.
I loved the end where Judi Dench and the cast sung about being a cat. 🙂
Personally I think that cats was fantastic but perhaps it is getting bad reviews for two reasons:
1) The audience don’t understand the premises and storyline.
2) The audience are comparing it to the musical.
Anyway, that’s my review.
Until next time,