Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Mikado (1939) - Now That's Yellow Face

I've been very familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado for most of my life but have never really had a chance to sit down and view it. I was always intrigued by how they masked British Satire under Oriental Make-Up.

The 1939 film version is known for probably being the closest to how the opera was originally seen onstage while also being watered down for Hollywood Film purposes as well. A prologue has been added, songs have been shortened and rearranged, and stars like Kenny Baker and Jean Colin join original Mikado cast members Martyn Green and Constance Willis join together to create this film version of Gilbert and Sullivan's comedic opera. 

Kenny Baker as Nanki-Poo, the smitten prince in disguise, plays his part as if he's in a dramatic piece, lending a certain air of camp to his character. His scenes with Jean Colin's are tender and beautiful and he is a rockstar in those solos.

Martyn Green is hilarious as Ko-Ko. Constance Willis as the spurned Katisha is another role that rises to camp level.

The cinematography, which received and academy award nomination, is gorgeous. The costumes and sets immediately take you into this highly fictionalized western version of Japan.

An enjoyable viewing experience.