The Blossom Embraces the Bee
The scene of the boy soprano in Bob Fosse’s 1972 film, Cabaret, says much about the art of confounding expectations. It is the only song in the movie which is not performed in the Kit Cat Club, but this takes nothing away from the darkness and foreboding which permeate the narrative from start to finish.
Based on the Broadway musical of the same name and Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, Cabaret is centered around the figure of Sally Bowles, an American ex-patriot in Berlin in the 1930s, star-struck and naive and holding down a singing and dancing job in a cellar bar and cabaret.
‘I’m going to be a great film star. That is if booze and sex don’t get me first.’
Outside on the streets Nazi thugs beat-up and destroy anyone who opposes them. Inside the cabaret the show goes on; but we have to question for how long? The good times are coming to an end as the curtain of the swastika inexorably eliminates the light.
The film depicts Berlin’s poverty, it’s alcoholism and its decadence; and it goes some way to disclosing the Nazis false promises of beauty, tradition, order, pride, and their affinity with the world of nature:
Nature is so marvellously beautiful and every animal has a right to live. It’s just this point of view that I admire so much in our forefathers. They, for instance, formally declared war on rats and mice, which were required to stop their depredations and leave a fixed area with a definite time limit, before beginning a war of annihilation against them. You will find this respect for animals in all Indo- Germanic peoples. It was of extraordinary interest to me to hear recently that even today Buddhist monks, when they pass through a wood in the evening, carry a bell with them, to make any woodland animals they might meet keep away, so that no harm will come to them.