"You Can’t Turn Back the Clock"
What You Need To Know:
Fanny Ardant gives a wonderful performance as Maria Callas, but the scenes from Bizet’s opera CARMEN are more striking than the rest of this movie. Thus, viewers who see CALLAS FOREVER might wish they had seen that movie instead of the one they get here. CALLAS FOREVER also contains strong references to Larry’s homosexual behavior, a gratuitous sub-plot that ultimately adds little to the story.
(B, HoHo, Ro, Acap, LLL, V, S, N, A, D, M) Light moral worldview extolling artistic beauty and artist integrity, but with strong homosexual content, and some Romantic, anti-capitalist elements bemoaning the mixture of business with art; 17 obscenities (including several “f” words), five strong profanities and five light profanities; light violence in opera scenes such as woman stabs ex-lover; man picks up another man at airport and starts a homosexual affair, homosexual couple lies in bed after sex with their shirts off, and older woman kisses her young co-star; upper male nudity and female cleavage; alcohol use; smoking and woman takes pills of some kind, perhaps for her health but that’s unclear; smoking; and, opera singer wallows in self-pity because she’s lost her beautiful voice and reference to famous woman being betrayed by her rich lover, who married someone else who was also famous.
GENRE: Musical Drama
Maria Callas, born in New York City to Greek parents in 1923, was the reigning queen of the opera world from 1949 to 1959. During those years, she became the standard by which all future opera singers are judged. In fact, conductor Leonard Bernstein once called her “the greatest artist of the world.”
The movie CALLAS FOREVER is a fictionalized tribute to Callas and her magnificent voice, directed by Franco Zeffirelli (JESUS OF NAZARETH). The movie begins in 1977. Jeremy Irons plays Larry Kelly, a rock manager who once managed Maria’s late career. Larry travels to Paris, where he meets a young male artist, Michael, and begins a homosexual affair. Partially deaf, Michael is a big fan of Maria’s albums.
Inspired by Michael, Larry tries to visit Maria in her palatial Paris apartment. He is shocked to find that Maria has become a total recluse, depressed and humiliated because of her deteriorating voice. Determined to re-ignite her passion and restore Maria’s legacy, Larry convinces Maria to make a movie of the popular opera CARMEN, in which she will lip-sync her own, glorious recording of many years ago. Shooting the movie goes very well, but Maria has grave doubts about the artistic honesty of the project.
Fanny Ardant delivers a wonderful performance as Maria Callas, but the scenes from Bizet’s opera CARMEN are more striking than the rest of this movie. Thus, viewers who see CALLAS FOREVER might wish they had seen that movie instead of the one they get here. Every time the scenes from the opera are shown, Zeffirelli makes us wish we could see more of that, or, better yet, a re-creation of Maria’s glory days in the 1950s. CALLAS FOREVER also contains strong references to Larry and Michael’s homosexuality, a gratuitous sub-plot that adds little or nothing to the story.
On a more positive note, the movie shows that we can’t turn back the clock. We have to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us in our younger days and move on from there. The movie also extols artistic beauty and artistic integrity.