This experimental musical revue combines the songwriting talents of the renowned Belgian-born Jacques Brel with the distinct stylistic sense of 1970s film. Brel's songs deal, movingly so, with topics as vast as love, death, and war. Bringing them to life seems a challenge, but one met by director Denis Heroux. Using tools as unexpected as puppets and extensive location shooting, Heroux places Brel's songs in a unique context -- one that frees them from theatrical constraints. Mort Shuman (who wrote songs for The Drifters and Elvis Presley) converts the songs into beautiful English-language versions, but does not lose the essence intended by Brel. In an age where the classic troubadour seems to have vanished, JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS reminds one of the need for singers to translate universal emotion into song.
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