Xanadu (film)

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Xanadu
Xanadufilm.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Greenwald
Produced byLawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
StarringOlivia Newton-John
Michael Beck
Gene Kelly
Music byBarry De Vorzon
CinematographyVictor J. Kemper
Editing byDennis Virkler
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • August 8, 1980 (1980-08-08)
Running time96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$22,762,571 (US)
 
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Xanadu
Xanadufilm.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Greenwald
Produced byLawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
StarringOlivia Newton-John
Michael Beck
Gene Kelly
Music byBarry De Vorzon
CinematographyVictor J. Kemper
Editing byDennis Virkler
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • August 8, 1980 (1980-08-08)
Running time96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$22,762,571 (US)

Xanadu is a 1980 romantic musical fantasy film written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel and directed by Robert Greenwald. The title is a reference to the nightclub in the film, which takes its name from Xanadu, the summer capital of Kublai Khan's Yuan Dynasty in China. This city appears in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poem that is quoted in the film. The film's plot was inspired by 1947's Down to Earth. A stage musical based on the film—also named Xanadu—opened in 2007 on Broadway.

Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly, and features music by Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, Cliff Richard, and The Tubes. The film also features animation by Don Bluth.

Plot[edit]

Sonny Malone is a talented artist who dreams of fame beyond his job, which is the non-creative task of painting larger versions of album covers for record-store window advertisements. As the film opens, Sonny is broke and on the verge of giving up his dream. Having quit his day job to try to make a living as a freelance artist, but having failed to make any money at it, Sonny returns to his old job at AirFlo Records. After some humorous run-ins with his imperious boss and nemesis, Simpson, he resumes painting record covers.

At work, Sonny is told to paint an album cover for a group called The Nine Sisters. The cover features a beautiful woman passing in front of an art deco auditorium (the Pan-Pacific Auditorium). This same woman collided with him earlier that day, kissed him, then roller-skated away, and Malone becomes obsessed with finding her. He finds her at the same (but now abandoned) auditorium. She identifies herself as Kira, but she will not tell him anything else about herself. Unbeknownst to Sonny, Kira is one of nine mysterious and beautiful women who literally sprang to life from a local mural in town near the beach. Sonny befriends a has-been big band orchestra leader-turned-construction mogul named Danny McGuire. Danny lost his muse in the 1940s (who is seen in a flashback scene to bear a startling resemblance to Kira), and Sonny has not yet found his muse. Kira encourages the two men to form a partnership and open a nightclub at the old auditorium from the album cover. She falls in love with Sonny, and this presents a problem because she is actually an Olympian Muse. ("Kira"'s real name is Terpsichore, and she is the Muse of Dance.) The other eight women from the beginning of the film are her sisters and fellow goddesses, the Muses, and the mural is actually a portal of sorts and their point of entry to Earth.

The Muses visit Earth often to help inspire others to pursue their dreams and desires, but in Kira's case, she has violated the rules by which Muses are supposed to conduct themselves, as she was only supposed to inspire Sonny but has ended up falling in love with him as well. Her parents (presumably the Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne) recall her to the timeless realm of the gods. Sonny follows her through the mural and professes his love for her. A short debate between Sonny and Zeus occurs with Mnemosyne interceding on Kira and Sonny's behalf. Kira then enters the discussion, saying the emotions she has toward Sonny are new to her--if only they could have one more night together, Sonny's dream of success for the nightclub Xanadu could come true. Zeus ultimately sends Sonny back to Earth. After Kira expresses her feelings for Sonny in the song "Suspended in Time", Zeus and Mnemosyne decide to let Kira go to him for a "moment, or maybe forever", which they cannot keep straight because mortal time confuses them, and the audience is left to wonder her fate.

In the finale, Kira and the Muses perform for a packed house at Xanadu's grand opening, and after Kira's final song, they return to the realm of the gods in spectacular fashion. With their departure, Sonny is understandably depressed, but that quickly changes when Danny has one of the waitresses bring Sonny a drink because the waitress looks exactly like Kira. Sonny approaches this enigmatic doppelgänger and says he would just like to talk to her. The film ends with the two of them talking, in silhouette, as the credits begin to roll.

Cast[edit]

The Muses

Members of the Tubes

Musical numbers[edit]

The album grouped Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) and ELO's songs into the opposite sides of the album, and some tunes were excluded from the album. The following is the actual order in the film:

Themes[edit]

The plot of the 1947 film Down to Earth was loosely used as the basis for Xanadu. In the 1947 film, Rita Hayworth played Terpsichore, opposite male lead Larry Parks who played a producer of stage plays.

Production[edit]

Pan-Pacific Auditorium transformed into "Xanadu" via special effects.

Reception[edit]

The film barely broke even at the box office in its initial release, and received a mixed-to-negative critical reception.[5] A double feature of Xanadu and another musical released at about the same time, Can't Stop the Music, inspired John J. B. Wilson to create the Golden Raspberry Awards (or "Razzies"), an annual event "dishonoring" what is considered the worst in cinema for a given year.[6] Xanadu won the first Razzie for Worst Director and was nominated for six other awards.

Over the years, the film has developed something of a cult audience.[7] With a combination of contemporaneous and modern reviews, Xanadu today holds a "Rotten" rating of 39% from the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[8] The soundtrack album (UK #2, US #4), however, was a commercial success. It was certified Double Platinum in the US and Gold in the UK, and also spent one week atop the Cashbox and Record World Pop Albums charts. The soundtrack contained five Top 20 singles:

Home media[edit]

Xanadu was re-released on DVD June 24, 2008. The "Magical Music Edition" features a "Going Back to Xanadu" featurette, the film's theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. A bonus music CD with the soundtrack album was included. The CD was the film's standard soundtrack album, i.e. with no extras such as omitted tracks.

2007 Broadway production[edit]

A $5 million Broadway musical adaptation of the same name began previews on May 23, 2007, and opened (with Olivia Newton-John and John Farrar in attendance) on July 10, 2007 starring Kerry Butler as Kira, Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny and Tony Roberts as Danny. In the musical, Kira is the Muse Clio, not Terpsichore. Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa co-starred (in a plot twist new to the Broadway version) as "evil" Muse sisters. The show, which humorously satirized the plot of the film, was a surprise hit, and was nominated for several Tony awards. The original cast recording was released December 2007. The Broadway production closed on September 28, 2008 after 49 previews and 512 performances.[9] A successful national tour followed.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Nominated: Best Pop Female Vocal Performance – Magic Olivia Newton-John
Nominated: Best Major Motion Picture – Family Entertainment
Won: Razzie Award for Worst Director (Robert Greenwald)
Nominated: Worst Picture
Nominated: Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay
Nominated: Worst Actor (Michael Beck)
Nominated: Worst Actress (Olivia Newton-John)
Nominated: Razzie Award for Worst "Original" Song ("Suspended in Time")
Nominated: Worst "Musical" of Our First 25 Years

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "XANADU (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 1980-08-19. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  2. ^ Don Fields The Xanadu Story
  3. ^ Marvel Super Special #17 at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (September 1, 1980). "Xanadu". Chicago Sun-Times (rogerebert.com). Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 9, 1980). "Xanadu (1980) MISS NEWTON-JOHN IN 'XANADU'". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Germain, David (Associated Press) (February 26, 2005). "25 Years of Razzing Hollywood's Stinkers". South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sun-Sentinel Company). p. 7D. 
  7. ^ American Council of Learned Societies (1999). John Arthur Garraty, Mark Christopher Carnes, ed. American national biography 1. Oxford University Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-19-520635-7. 
  8. ^ Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew "Xanadu Workshop – with Krakowski and Jackson – Presented Jan. 20-21" Playbill, January 20, 2007. Retrieved on January 29, 2007.

External links[edit]