Sunday, July 21, 2019

About Cats

Much bandwidth has been devoted over the past few days to discussion of the trailer for the movie version of Cats, which has been described variously as creepy, demented, drug-addled and uh-why-would-a-cat-need-a-fur-coat? To be honest, I don’t get the horrified reaction; surely the whole point of CGI is to create things that cannot be in an analogue world, rather than just to form a simulacrum of our meat-and-bones existence, but to do it quicker and faster. But then my favourite Marvel movie is the utterly barmy Doctor Strange, so what would I know?

If I were making a movie version of Cats (and I would remind you that when I put on a stage show in Edinburgh, I plastered the Scotsman reviewer’s reaction of “unbelievably atrocious” across the posters and audiences doubled in the second week, so I know how to weaponise visceral loathing), this is what I’d do:

1. Ditch most of the songs and most of the fluffy Americans and James bloody Corden, leaving just Dame Judi, Sir Ian and soon-to-Sir Idris on an otherwise empty stage. Bulk out the running time with bits of The Waste Land (including the notes), The Four Quartets, maybe even Notes Towards The Definition of Culture. (This version of The Waste Land set to the music of Anthony Burgess may give a few hints.) The greatest of Lloyd Webber’s many sins has been to encourage to notion that T.S. Eliot Should Be Fun. He’s got to hurt, people.

2. Don’t worry, there will be cats, but they won’t be actors with CGI fur and tails up their bums. Instead, I’d have inserts of old fashioned analogue frame-by-frame animation, based on the beautiful, often heartbreaking work of Louis Wain, whose art progressed from cute, anthropomorphic moggies to semi-abstract cat deities, mirroring the increasing fragility and ultimate collapse of his mental state. And if you think the current trailer is a bit creepy, you’ll be coughing up furballs of pure terror when this one happens.

1 comment:

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

YES LOIUS WAIN! My respect for you has grown one hundredfold, Mr. Footman.