Out of the two ABBA movies I asked about in CdC #5, I managed to find one at the new laser disc store I’ve been frequenting. This is a Japanese import disc and who the hell knows why they would carry it since I think I’m just about the only person in the entire Metro Detroit Area who would rent it.
As the title implies, this is a concert movie but it’s not like any that I’ve ever seen. It starts off in darkness with Bjorn Ulvaeus giving us the last bit of a "two three four" (in Swedish of course) then blasting into a live version of the first half of "Waterloo." But then, something weird happens. In fact, a lot of weird things happenafter "Waterloo" for ten solid minutes there’s a section of primarily match form edits with no shot lasting over ten seconds. It consists most of just cut-cut-cut from one seemingly unrelated item to the next. It’s kind of like the director, Urban Lasson, had just gotten done watching Daisies and wanted to include an Abbaesque tribute to the film.
There’s Bjorn playing "The Star Spangled Banner" on a harmonica, there’s a guy on roller-skates, there’s a shot of a hamburger, there’s some concert footage, there’s Agnetha seductively licking an ice-cream cone, there’s another guy on roller-skates. What does one have to do with another? I’m not quite sure, but I like it. Eventually there’s a shot of Benny eating a hamburgeris that why it was shown? Well, then, why the hell do we keep seeing different people roller-skating and none of have names beginning with the letters "A" or "B?"
I’m not criticizing, no, not by a long shot. I was hypnotized. ABBA has that effect on me, but so does an interesting and strange montage. It’s not just thrown together, either. I know there’s a method to this madness, but maybe I have to be Swedish to fully understand it. All I know is that there are some really cool things that even a Yankee Dog like me can pick up, like Bjorn talking about writing "Take A Chance On Me" while we hear the group warming up for the show and eventually when Bjorn starts singing, he’s right in rhythm with the voices underneath.
So this touring, backstage preparation, roller-skating and miscellaneous montage goes on for ten minutes (a sixth of the movie!) and then it’s back to the concert where the fab four run down a list of some of their greatest hits and we get every pounding beat and spangled-costume moment of it. Very nice.
But don’t think that the interesting cutting ends where the show begins. There are still some cut-aways of roller-skaters during "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and a really interesting bit during "I Have A Dream" where, right before the children’s chorus is supposed to come in, we get to see a montage of the kids’ rehearsals going from what appears to be their first day with ABBA to the actual concert itself all in the span of around two minutes.
Seeing ABBA: In Concert really makes me appreciate Bjorn Again even more (see CdC #5 for more on the ABBA cover group). They put on quite a show. It was great seeing Benny with his rotating keyboard, Agnetha with her intense eye-makeup, Bjorn with his icy, commanding stare, and Frida doing some really embarrassing dancing (it reminded me of something out of a Lionel Richie video, maybe "Running With The Night"?) and all of them in white skin-tight satin outfits. Would you expect anything less?
As an ABBA fan it’s been a very good month for me! A few days after I rented ABBA: In Concert I turned on VH1 and caught the Swedish Super-group on the American Bandstand show. They did a fine job of lip-synching to "S.O.S." and "I Do, I Do, I Do" and Dick Clark got to embarrass himself with his dumb interview questions between songs; asking things like, "How many people live in Sweden?" At the moment the show airs at ten p.m. every weeknite and, if you miss ABBA, maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch the show with John Travolta doing a stirring rendition of "Gonna Let Her In."