Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 09:24 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity is not the easiest sell in the world, as musicals go. After all, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: The Musical seems like a natural fit for the stage, with all the bright colours and general insanity. But a World War II movie about GIs butting heads before the war is even joined, falling for married women or prostitutes and getting thrown in the stockade? It's a little harder to see immediately where you fit in the high kicks and the sequins. What's more, we're talking about a story by the famously somber author James Jones, also responsible for The Thin Red Line, who was there in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor and who then fought his way across the Pacific. To make light of that legacy would be to lose your audience before you even begin. Luckily, the show treats its characters with respect, and turns out better than we had any right to expect.

The thing to remember is that Les Miserables isn't exactly an obvious source for a musical either, and the dying prostitutes and general misery there didn't get in the way of the songs. This isn't quite Les Mis - there's nothing as catchy as I Dreamed A Dream or One More Day - but it finds a way to give the soldiers manly, martial numbers and communicate the tension and fear of the times immediately prior to December 7, 1941.

Darius Campbell (yes, the former Pop Idol contestant) plays First Sergeant Warden, the pragmatic, capable and compassionate commander of G Company. It's the Burt Lancaster role, but Campbell looks eerily like a taller Cary Grant. The newbie in the company is Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Robert Lonsdale), a former champion boxer and bugler who has foresworn both after injuring a friend in the ring - much to the disappointment of his new commanders, who were counting on his talents.

Soon, Prewitt's beset by trouble on all sides and serving punishment detail after punishment detail as he stubbornly refuses to fold to the Army's demands on his talents. The only bright spot on his horizon is a prostitute, Lorene (Siubhan Harrison) who has taken a shine to him. Warden, meanwhile, strikes up an affair with his commander's wife, Karen (Rebecca Thornhill) - which could lead to his court-martial.



It's all stirring stuff, and the songs are appropriately moody, heavy on the male voices and light on the tropical paradise angle. A few are genuinely great: Ain't Where I Wanna Be Blues is a kick, and More Than America makes for a rousing pre-interval semi-finale. Whether it's the right story for right now is a bigger question. The compassion towards the average soldier and bubbling fury at their commanders seems perennially relevant, unfortunately, and there's a good deal of nuance in how the army is portrayed and the tragedies it inflicts on its own members. There's even a story thread touching on homophobia. But do we really need another stage show with a full chorus of dancing prostitutes? Aren't there any gripping stories with a more equal division of labour between the sexes? In a post-Book Of Mormon West End, can a musical as sincere and largely serious as this one really prosper? That remains to be seen - but if you're a fan of the more dramatic end of the musical spectrum, this is a good option.

The big question on everyone's lips, however, is more technical. How, they ask, do they manage the iconic roll in the surf? Since it's the only scene most people remember from the 1953 winner of eight Oscars, it seems to matter. The answer is that it's all present and correct, thanks to a smoke machine and some theatre magic. Thank goodness for that.

Photos: Johan Persson

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 pythonlove
Posted on Thursday November 14, 2013, 00:27
Excellent review, Helen.

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (439)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday
By Owen Williams

Bloody Cuts In Conversation
By Owen Williams

European Film Awards 2012
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves
By Owen Williams


RECENT COMMENTS

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
"Or don't..."  Owen Williams
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Juan Francisco Pardo Q&A
"Sadece on altı dakika içinde iyi bir görsel hikaye anlatmak önemli beceri ve bel"  skndrdmr
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
"That really amazing."  ommrudraksha
Read comment

2013 IIFF - The Winners
"Hi Simon, Trying to get in touch with you. Hope this works. I enjoyed your piece on Enter t"  matthewpolly
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Brisbane International Film Festival: First Report
"I think it is pretty clear the story revolves around The Blacksmith, in The Man With The Iron Fists,"  owenyunfat
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Thanks for the feedback! I hope I didn't give the impression that Cloud Atlas is a write-off; I just"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Hi Damon With regards to Cloud Atlas, I fear that it will face the same problem a"  ChesterCopperpot
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"No worries! I just try to describe things as I see them, and I often forget that, as Empire has grow"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your early reviews from the festivals, and of course, I'm not alway"  pythonlove
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
13 comments

Damo's Top Ten Of 2009
9 comments

Basterds Blog
9 comments

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview
9 comments

Sundance 2010: Four Lions blows everyone away!
8 comments

Sundance 2010: The Killer Inside Me causes outrage!
7 comments

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!
7 comments

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
7 comments

The Wrestler
6 comments

Where to see Moon...
6 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Rogues Gallery: Powers Boothe
Sin City's Roark talks us through his most memorable baddies

Richard Attenborough: In Celebration
Saluting a man who made a lasting impact on cinema and beyond…

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)