ABBA, when we think about this logically, is probably all Now and no Then, but this is my blog, and after all time is simply a construct of the middle class bourgeois reclining on their chaise lounges… or something like that. In any case, while ABBA has been around only since the 70’s they have been referenced in pop culture a lot… an awful lot. More than the Rosetta Stone probably, and that has been around for a significantly greater amount of time.
One of the greatest accolades for a band is to have their music featured on the soundtrack to a film, and even greater accolade is for viewers of the film to hear nothing buy your band perform for the entire duration of the movie. Surprisingly, ABBA has had this many times. I say surprisingly, because although I confess a love for (most) ABBA, it really is a bit of a joke that they ever achieved the fame and fortune that they did. Particularly in Australia. This fact is made more ironic when you consider that one of the band members (Agnetha) hated flying more than I hate those guards of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz (read: a lot).
Anyway, I digress. ABBA has been used in movies, so now we take a look at the Then and Now of it all.
Then – ‘Muriel’s Wedding’.
Anyone who has ever watched a movie marathon with a middle class Australian woman, or any variety of Australian gay man will have seen both Rachel Griffiths and Toni Colette on stage at Hibiscus Island dancing to Dancing Queen and followed Muriel’s journey with her friend Rhonda to becoming Mariel Heslop, the Mariel Van Arkel and finally returning to a burnt out garden, a dead mother and an ice queen mistress cleaning the bathroom as Muriel Heslop all over again. What other epic filmic journey could make one laugh so hard at someones life and then be brought down to earth with those fateful lines
Mariel… I can’t feel my legs
Of course, there are ups and downs, and fancy that, all of them are inexplicably linked to an ABBA song. But poor Euro-pop loving Muriel/Mariel takes it one step further and makes her whole life about ABBA. Example:
When I lived in Porpoise Spit, I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I’ve met you and moved to Sydney, I haven’t listened to one Abba song. That’s because my life is as good as an Abba song. It’s as good as Dancing Queen
Moving words… truly moving. Yet somehow, every time I watch it, I can’t help but be swayed into believing that she really means what she says. If you ask me I would have preferred to have my life like Fernando, which did much better on the charts.
In my opinion any film that can be so camp and also have the line
Sorry Mum. You know I love you, but you drive me crazy. And you three, what a bunch of cocksuckers.
in the last three minutes can do whatever the hell it wants with the music in the background. And Rachel and Toni clearly don’t mind… both of them are now filthy rich and famous.
Now – Should I just start out by telling you that I have a massive predisposition in writing this. I welcome comments and opinions, but I’m fairly sure I’ve made my mind up on this then and now already. And now… it ain’t looking pretty.
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (again) recently brought my attention to this film with a scathing parody. It is ‘Mamma Mia’. I will start this part of the post by expressing my greatest sympathy to Meryl Streep for ever starring in this.
If you would like to use ABBA in a film (or stage musical which will become a film) at least write a story that involves the songs, instead of simply surprising us with sudden plot revelations, like the fact that (wannabe) Athenian godess Donna Sheridan has the nickname ‘Chiquitita’. How very convenient when she has started crying and an ABBA song about crying also exists. Speaking of plot revelations… no, you know what, I can’t even bring myself to do it.
I feel I will become to angry if I continue talking about this film, and may even unrepress my memory of Pierce Brosnan singing or Colin Firth dancing shirtless in ‘Aphrodite’s fountain’… I will leave you with one thought. I watched the French and Saunders sketch while I was watching Mamma Mia (which I had to do in two sittings) and when I looked up from the sketch playing on my computer, I honestly thought, I had somehow managed to get the sketch onto my television. I could not tell the difference between the two. It was not until Sofia (in yet another delightful Ancient Greek blue and white pinafore) fainted to the floor I realised and thought gosh… there’s no way even french and Saunders could act that poorly.
So… For The Win – I hardly think I need to go on here. But I will say that for now, I’ve played all my cards and the winner will indeed take it all. Then for the win.
Then – 2
Now – 1
Any questions? Comments? Disagreements? If enough people tell me I’m wrong, by popular vote I will have to give the points to the losing film… It’s kind of the early stages of a voting system I guess.