"25th ANNIVERSARY GALA PERFORMANCE"
- A Narada
- Miss Saigon - 25th Anniversary Performance (Film).
Universal Pictures- (2016)
Cameron Mackintosh - Producer Brett Sullivan - Director
For starters, all of you intending to see Miss Saigon should be advised that it is a filming of the popular stage play of that name, and it is a musical. And for your viewing horror, they have managed to film the 5 minute intermission between Acts 1 and 2, and then again, another 10 minute interval between the end of the film and the film of the 25th Anniversary Celebrations themselves. I'm not making this up - a blank, silent screen. These extended breaks allow the viewer to either sit there, go buy popcorn or visit the facilities to wash his or her hands. Why, WHY, would they do that? The only concievable reason is to attempt to preserve a somewhat nebulous appeal for those who would like to imagine themselves watching a more "cultured" live stage performance, and not just some lowly cinematic production....
Nevertheless, a creditable production it is. And while it would have had greater impact 25 years ago, when the world's consciousness remained more focused on the Viet Nam War, and while it would have an even greater impact on those who were in Viet Nam during the final days of the conflict, the story holds up. There is more than enough 'universality' and historical underpinning to 'give it wings' on through present times, and into the future.
Those few remaining moviegoers who were a part of the milieu of the evacuation of Saigon in April of 1975 will see that some of the production is over the top, starting with "Dreamland" - a nightclub the likes of which Saigon never knew. The single anachronism (which we won't let get in the way of a good story) is the action commences in Saigon in 1975; American G.I.s, are swarming the brothels, etc. when in fact, the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces departed Viet Nam more than two years before in 1973. With the exception of a company of Marine Embassy guards, the Americans remaining in Saigon after that time were civilians with the Defense Attache Office, civilian contractors, and journalists and the like. Also, the 'evacuation' itself was depicted as frantic, manic, (partly accurate) and, finally, a frenzied wailing-at-the-wall (exaggerated), while it entirely missed the overwhelming pall and fatalistic calm to which those left behind had resigned themselves.
As to whether or not Miss Saigon ever rests in the Pantheon of the West's Great Stage Plays, only time will tell. However (as entertaining as it was), in filmland, it will not come close to The Quiet American when it comes to portraying the American presence in those outrageous times in that unique land. One only hopes (and this reviewer has never hoped this before) they will do a Director's Cut, paring it down from 3 and a half hours, all in, to about 90 minutes - max.