Home > Movie > Xanadu, a film (1980)

Xanadu, a film (1980)

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently re-watched this film. I guess I must have been about 9 years old the first time I saw it, which was probably the right age to see it. It’s so late 70’s; The outfits are mostly from that era and the make-up is very overdone. In fact, the costume designer, Bobbie Mannix, claims that leg warmers took off as a result of them being worn in Xanadu. The name for the movie, is taken both from the house that Orson Welles named in Citizen Kane and the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan.

The movie is a mixture of reality and fantasy with some animation thrown in. It’s a true period piece 🙂 set in the roller-disco era of Venice beach (California). Of course, the two main characters are roller skating through much of the film. It even features a version of a mash up – the mixture of an 80’s song with song from the 40’s.

The cast is interesting: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, and Michael Beck. Olivia was so young and, it pre-dates any cosmetic surgery or botox she’s had to make her look younger, so she just looks so fresh…and dare we say even exotic. The accent clinches my last statement. It is kind of odd, though, that a supposed daughter of Zeus would have an Australian rather than a Greek accent. Remember the 70’s? That was mostly before actors started adopting accents that made sense for their roles.

I’m sorry to say that Michael Beck cannot act to save his life. Luckily Olivia and Gene can. It’s so nice seeing someone like Gene Kelly in this movie. I’d forgotten he was in it. He has that old school charm that’s mostly been lost to us. Men, these days for the most part, just don’t know how to carry it off. George Clooney kind of has it but his personal life overshadows his ability to maintain it.

NB: Michael was nominated for a Worst Actor Award in 1981 for his role in this film and his acting career kind of shut down afterwards. That’s why you may wondering who the heck he is.

The Soundtrack is remarkable and frankly that is what I remembered most about this film. After 30 years, I still know the words to most of the songs. Incredible. I must have had the record and played it over and over. Remember record players…Most of the music is performed by Olivia and the Electric Light Orchestra, with one lovely piece sung by Olivia and Gene: Whenever You’re Away from Me. And, the highlight has to be when Olivia sings Suspended. It’s near the end of the film, when she’s trapped in this ‘other world’ that Michael tries to take her out of, but Zeus won’t let her go and so he sends Michael away instead. Olivia’s left there, and sings Suspended right into the camera. Gosh, she was just fantastic. On searching YouTube for some kind of version to link to, it seems that this song is one of the favorites of her fans. Unfortunately, none of the renditions there are as magical as the one in the film.

Recommendation: For me it’s not about the movie, it’s about the music. But watching Olivia and Gene – you can’t go wrong.

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Categories: Movie
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  1. January 12, 2013 at 07:45

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