2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Magical but flawed, 9 Jun. 2007
This is the strangest phenomenon - I adore this DVD but its flaws glare at me every time - it's not so much like watching a car crash, more like watching two circus trains crash - picturesque and exotic and wrong!
Sarah Brightman is exquisitely beautiful and she looks like some flight-of-fancy princess from the Arabian Nights, or Scheherazade herself, in this DVD, and I can't take my eyes off her - despite the fact that I'm female and as straight as they come.
The video production of Harem is top-notch; it has been extraordinarily well planned and the attention to detail is stunning. The result is a visual feast that really is dizzying. Every track has its own flavour and 'look' and the DVD as a production is like a banquet of delicate and intoxicating courses - all, that is, except for the baffling inclusion of a track from Sarah's "La Luna" tour which annoys me every time for pointlessly breaking the continuity of Harem.
The musical production is good too from what I can tell (I'm a choreographer but I'm married to a Sound Designer so I do have half a clue). The Lyrics in many of the songs are laughably weak from an artistic point of view ("What you never know can't hurt you / what you never know can't lie / what you never know can't desert you / what you never know can't make you cry" - must have taken about 15 minutes to come up with that), but if you consider that Sarah is trying to appeal to the widest cross-section of people possible, then I guess she has probably done that by making the songs easy to understand. So it's only a downside if you try to look at Harem as Art rather than Entertainment.
Entertaining it certainly is: as I've already been waxing lyrical, the whole thing is an absolute delight for the senses. It is dynamic in tempo, sound, and emotion; the colour palettes are a joy and the details, from the set right down to the colour of Sarah's eyeshadow, have all been planned to the Nth degree. I guess that is what annoys me so much about the flaws: to have such a high degree of excellence in so many ways, but then hit the epitomy of lowbrow in just a few key areas, seems like a cruel letdown.
Possibly the biggest annoyance is the enduring love affair Brightman has with her own image in the camera lens. She has about two or three stock facial expressions that she rotates and uses a different combination of in each song (I'm beautiful/I'm sad/I'm in a state of wonder - or something like that) and this to me is a travesty on a face so beautiful and a voice so expressive.
The whole production is just gorgeous, and I squirm watching Brightman thinking herself the epitome of beauty, when all around her are so many natural and cultural wonders - it is as if she's unwilling to surrender herself to the rapturous Middle-Eastern theme she's trying to evoke, and will not give up her place as Grand High Princess Sarah. It's entirely possible I'm being very unfair to her but I think at least a degree of this criticism IS actually warranted so forgive me if I'm being too hard.
Many will disagree with me on my criticisms - but I think not many will disagree with my praises for that gloriously wonderful DVD that I *keep on watching* despite everything else! It's one of my favourites!