The film follows the lives and love story of Sally Bowles, a performer at the Kit Kat Klub and Brian Roberts, a new British arrival in Berlin and the love story of Fritz Wendel, who calls himself a ‘gigolo’ and Natalia Landuer, a wealthy Jewish woman.
The performances in the Kit Kat Klub weave and thread themselves around both couples and also around the German society. Each act shows the parallels of the cabaret and the world outside of the cabaret. For the bourgeois the cabaret was considered as a ‘refuge’ from the reality of the disturbance of the Nazi party. The master of ceremony tells his audience to “Leave your troubles outside, in here life is beautiful.”
The emcee’s performance of Wilkommen is a welcoming for the audience, the viewers and the Nazis that are starting to cause a fuss in Berlin and If You Could See Her informs the audience that to love a Jewish person in Berlin at this time was considered wrong.
Wilkommen is performed by the cabaret’s emcee accompanied by the Kit Kat performers. The song is to welcome strangers to the cabaret. It starts with a close up of the emcee’s distorted face, leaving an unsettled feeling. The effect of the distorted face is a set up for one of the main ideas of Cabaret. It is a metaphor for the idea that things are not what they seem. The emcee tells his audience to “Leave your troubles outside.” This gives the impression that the people in the cabaret go there to ignore the ‘outside’ world and forget their responsibilities. The line, “The girls are beautiful,” is accompanied with a man putting on a wig. This represents the idea that things are not what they seem and while in the cabaret there is no telling of what is what. The Kit Kat performers are far from being ‘beautiful’. They are shown as grotesque and repelling and seem to be disinterested in their performance. Throughout the performance we are shown snippets of the performance in the cabaret and life outside of the cabaret. Of the people outside, they are hard-working and don’t have the choice to ignore their responsibilities.
In the film, this performance is to welcome the cabaret’s audience but Fosse is suggesting that the people of Berlin were welcoming the Nazis, even if they were not aware of it. Germans that did not support Hitler and the Nazis did not do anything to protect the Jews and so can be classed as helping Hitler take over Germany. These people, even though they may not have known at the time, were welcoming the Nazis into Berlin.
If You Could See Her is performed by the Kit Kat Klub’s master of ceremony accompanied by someone dressed in a gorilla suit wearing a dress. The song tells the story of a man falling in love with a woman who does not meet Berlin’s social standards. The final line of the song “If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all,” informs the…