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  October 14th, 2012       Posted by Frederik       Display Comments

This Sunday we cover a fan’s favorite – “Mamma Mia”. Some big updates have been made to spotlight the film: New Blu-Ray screencaptures have been added and all other pictures – production stills, promotional pictures, on-set pictures and making of captures – have been re-added in better quality. The video archive has been added with compilation videos of her promotional interview tours in Greece, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Australia and the United States. There’s also three new clips from the film. Production notes and review after the cut. As always, please share your thoughts on “Mamma Mia” in the comments.

Production Notes

Soon after the musical “Mamma Mia” opened in London, several companies expressed interest in making it into a film. Tom Hanks and Playtone would ultimately become Littlestar’s (Judy Craymer’s company) producing partner for the film. Executive producer Hanks recalls of seeing the show: “By the twelfth minute, I was standing up singing along with the music.” With a working script, Craymer began the search for a director. She persuaded theater and opera director Phyllida Lloyd to join the company, and Lloyd immediately responded to Mamma Mia! Drawn to the songs, the director sums, “This was the musical Benny and Björn didn’t realize they’d written.” Björn Ulvaeus worked closely with Lloyd, Craymer and playwright Catherine Johnson, giving feedback on each new draft.

With an accomplished behind-the-scenes production team, the filmmakers looked to find a cast just as amazing. Cast in the lead role of Donna was Meryl Streep. Mamma Mia! is Streep’s first full-on movie musical. Says Craymer of the production’s choice for Donna: “We had always leant towards Meryl Streep playing the lead character. It was beyond joyful that she said yes to the offer immediately. We knew she had seen the show on Broadway a few years ago, as she’d written a rather wonderful letter to the cast, telling them how much she loved the show and how she’d wanted to get up on stage and feel what it was like to be part of Mamma Mia! Like schoolgirls, we kept this letter.” “We dreamt of asking Meryl to play Donna,” says director Lloyd. “We knew she sang; we knew she wanted to do a musical. She combines everything that is required. She’s one of those unique actors who can laugh the world’s laughs and cry the world’s tears. That’s what Mamma Mia! needed, and we have it in her.”

Everybody was really dimmed spiritually after 9/11. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with the kids?’ So I took all these 10-year-olds to see a matinee of Mamma Mia!. They walked in and they sat there with their heads in their hands. Dimmed is the word – they were sad all the time, you know? The first part was really wordy, and then Dancing Queen started up. And for the rest of the show they were dancing on their chairs and they were so, so happy. We all went out of the theatre floating on the air. I thought, ‘What a gift to New York right now’. I keep getting asked about the scene with the splits [while jumping on the bed]. They ask – was there a body double? Yeah, right! Or was it CGI? Of course! They grafted my face on to Olga Korbut’s body. I just did the splits on instinct. That’s what always happens with my acting. As an actor, you’re not allowed to think. I couldn’t do the splits for you right now. (Meryl Streep, Guardian, July 2008)

Streep had indeed seen the show in New York and recounts, “It was pure joy.” She was drawn to the role for its humanity, its spirit and, of course, the music. “The songs are timeless,” says Streep. “They just enter your body. When I came to learn them, I found I knew every single one. They have amazing hooks and great melodies.” Streep also responded to the fact that women had created Mamma Mia! and this would be a challenging, physical role that demanded a great deal of stamina. Among other moves, she would have to scale the side of a 40-foot building and sing “Mamma Mia” while balancing precariously on a rooftop. Too, she would sing “Dancing Queen” while performing a series of stunts, which included sliding down banisters to jumping off a jetty and into the sea. Says Streep, “I was told that I was going to climb up the goat house wall while singing ‘Mamma Mia.’ I thought, ‘How big could a goat house be?’ The goat house turned out to be this sheer wall. I was basically doing a Spider-Man stunt, and I got in shape really quickly. It was the first week, and I thought, ‘Whew! I better do my exercises every night.’” Cast to play the (un)welcome dads were Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård.

Following several weeks of music and vocal recordings, six weeks of combined costume fittings, make-up tests and dance rehearsals, the shoot began on the newly refurbished 007 Stage at Pinewood in June 2007. The film was finally released theatrically in Summer 2008. Critics were rather mixed – the BBC called it “the closest you get to see A-List actors doing drunken karaoke”, while Empire Magazine called it “clean, camp fun, full of sunshine and toe tappers”. Of the actors, Brosnan was savaged by many for his vocal skills. Financially, however, “Mamma Mia” became a huge hit at the box office – the most successful British-made film of all time, as well as being the highest-grossing film of all time at the UK box office, eclipsing the record previously held by “Titanic”. It received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture Comedy and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Meryl Streep.

Frederik’s Review

This might come as a shock to read on a Meryl Streep fansite – but I don’t like “Mamma Mia”. The reason for that is simple, I don’t like muscials, never had an interest in those. Looking beyond this fact and trying to like it anyway, I didn’t succeed in doing so. Clearly, this is a comedy for women to enjoy, just like men get their yearly dose of action flicks and buddy films. But in contrast to those, “Mamma Mia” did not have the luxury of a big budget. It hasn’t hurt the film though, since it remains the most successful in Meryl’s filmography, money-wise. And I’m sure it’ll stay there. But if you don’t like the genre, it feels impossible to enjoy the outrageously over-the-top acting throughout, which, at times, is campy, or the rather simple story. The directing and editing feels like a mess. The one thing you can sense, nevertheless, is that all participants enjoy their job. It has to be said as well that Meryl’s singing is marvelous. And it has been important to her career, proving that “The Devil Wears Prada” and Meryl’s success at the mainstream box-office hasn’t been a one-hit wonder. Also, it shows a side of Meryl that you probably wouldn’t have seen several years ago, maybe because her own interest in film has shifted or there simply wasn’t an opportunity. “Mamma Mia”, on stage and film, has given millions of viewers pure joy and has brought Meryl a whole new generation of fans, so I’m aware that my opinion on the film is a minority.

  • Tena

    My partner and I go to the movie theater twice a week, every week, and we almost never see anything more than once because we love movies and we hate to miss one.
    With that being said, we made the time to see this film on the big screen 4 times before it was gone and each time it was complete magic!
    Meryl is perfect in this role… fact this movie has the perfect cast, the perfect script, the perfect score, with perfect direction and perfect cinematography…..all to make the perfect mix for a perfect movie!
    Although everyone has the right to their own opinion…..sorry, but on this one you were wrong.
    And Meryl was robbed of her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe!
    FYI: more than 4 years after it’s release “Mamma Mia!” is ranked number 70 on the list of All Time Worldwide Releases with a total worldwide gross of $609,800,000.!! ~ and that’s amazing!!
    And it helped secure Meryl’s place as the true Queen of the Movies!!

  • petunia

    I just wanna say thantks to Phillida Lloyd and all the Mamma Mia´s cast for making such a beautiful, beautiful and entertaining movie for us to see and share so much to us of you talent and grace. What you did was epic

  • angelica

    I didn´t went to see Mamma Mia to the cinema, I saw it in my house, but the funniest thing happen, I set the DVD, push play button and when I start seing it and I realized it was a Musical, I stopped it because I hate musicals, then I calmed down and decided to give it another go, so ply again and I started to read the subtitles, the story, the lyrics and became clear to me that it was gonna be alright, so I saw it and I enjoyed so much I love MAMMA MIA, I would be so sorry if I have hadn´t saw it

  • mary

    Pure joy, Greece, sea, summer, love and of course – Meryl. What would be better?

  • Sonja

    Mamma Mia! has become a phenomina noone really can explain. Just like the career of ABBA.
    It’s one of these films you either really hate or just love to death. I can understand both sides.
    Of course I myself love it. It rarely happens I’ve seen a movie just once and wanted to see it again immediately. That did not even happen with my favorite films.
    I was truely regretting not to have watched it in a cinema (I saw it on DVD).
    It’s just so joyful, silly, pure fun, a big party. No more, no less.
    We all know Pierce Brosnan just can’t sing, but…. he tried and at least sung with a öittle passion.
    Obviously Meryl had a blast. I don’t think there was much acting involved in her part. I do think she showed much of her own personality in that role-I of course have no proof, I just feel it.
    It was never meant to be an awards player or whatever and I can understand people who were longer fans of Meryl were kind of devistated or dissapointed she did such a “silly” movie.
    (of course for the movie’s lovers it’s not silly at all)
    She’s known as a character actress in (heavy) dramas, a critic’s darling -> a legend!
    But maybe that’s why she said yes to do it, in the end. She has also seen and loved the broadway show, so why not?
    It became not just a hit, but a HUGE hit.
    And suddenly a huge new generation of young girls/women became her fans. What a career boost! I also joined that group. And I have seen some of Meryl’s movies before, I liked her, but she never really had an impact. But after MM! I had to get to know this woman and am I glad I did! I’d might missed some really great movies (Adaptation, Angels in America, even The Bridges of Madison County was unknown to me!).
    It really seems like that was the smartest idea ever, or at least lately.
    Because MM! did not only made big money and a new career boost, it also opened the door to another project and finally the way to Meryl’s long awaited third Academy Award. (a coincidence every time Colin Firth presented an award- she won? ;))
    So yeah… Thank you Mamma Mia! Just not for music alone, but everything.

  • Rose

    I agree! this movie really got me through.

  • monel46

    A year ago saw for the first and gave him a change to my life was going a depression because of very large penalty I would have liked to see her in the movie teather is beautiful film radiantes joy his song,the landscape,is beatiful the first actors and confess that I had never liked Meryl ,but now I amyour fan it is incredible the best actrees that has existed.

  • Katrin

    So many things about the film have been said/written above, that I totally agree with: it lift’s up your mood every time, it’s funny, it gives pure joy watching the actors enjoying their work and – most of all: the fantastic singing of Meryl Streep, that made me fall in love with her, too. But beyond all, after watching it many times, getting more and more aware and adoring all the little perfect fitting things/details/scene cuts/blending of music and dialogues etc., I discovered the development Sophie goes through and find it really interesting and worth considering. Throughout the story she learns, what is really important in human relationships. The absent, of course wonderful imagined parent seems to be the most important thing to achieve: “I’m sure, I will know right away, which one is my dad” – but she doesn’t know or feel it, no one could do that. “When I see him, everything will fall into place”. But it doesn’t. In the fight with Sky he tells her simple, but true things (in my opinion) and the turning point is, when Sophie finally asks Donna to give her away. Now she has recognized, that only her mother, who shared her laughter, her tears, the sorrows and joys, the whole live in the past twenty years is the right person to do that. Any absent father wouldn’t be right in that situation (no judgement about the circumstances that led to the split – that’s another story). And in the chapel the development moves on, because she is able to disclaim her own desire for the wedding and respond to Skys dream, perhaps a next step in loving him…? I don’t want to take it too high, it’s just like a little, thin thread, that runs through the whole slapstick comedy.
    By the way, the sequence of these three songs, “Slipping through my fingers”, “The winner takes it all” and “When all is said and done” is my favorite part of the film. I knew and loved all of songs since the 1980s and the interpretation of Meryl Streep is beyond words. I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time hearing and seeing her in the movie. I’m afraid, I could write a whole essay about Mamma Mia!, so I’ll better stop here…
    Frederik, thank you very much for your frank words – if even Meryl Streep with her voice and wit and looks in this movie didn’t succeed in teasing you for musicals, definitely no one and nothing ever will…;-)

  • lilian

    Love this movie any time i feel down i play it to cheer myself up works every time, plus Meryl is great in it.

  • Jessica

    Does anybody know who Meryl’s talking about in the Swedish interview?

  • Manuel

    I like the ABBA songs – or, at least, most of them. But I don’t like the musical setup: this drawing of a silly, pseudo-coherent storyline with not nearly enough psychology in it to make it credible and not nearly enough real craziness in it to make it “surreal”. It’s just an overly simple basic idea, stretched far beyond its limits. Visually, they should have done more “dream-like”, unrealistic things like the boat sequence for “Money, Money”.
    That said, I enjoyed Amanda Seyfried’s sexiness, Julie Walters’ shameless comical drive, and of course Meryl Streep’s joy, tenderness, slight self-mockery, and of course her heartfelt rendition of “The Winner takes it all”.

  • Pernilla

    I had seen Meryl Streep in films before Mamma Mia but that one became my ‘Meryl eye-opener’! The film is irresistable, you walk out of the movie theatre with a big smile on your face and the songs of ABBA in your head. And I who thought movie musicals was NOT my thing… Meryl is gorgeous is that film (as always I learnt since getting all of her other films) and so are the film locations. Two years ago a friend and I visited Skopelos and Skiathos and they are two small beautiful islands, green and lush. With a bit of research one can visit some of the filming locations and other places the film crew visited. They were even still showing Mamma Mia at the outdoor theatre in Skiathos :-) After walking up all those sweaty steps to the little white chapel where the marriage in the movie took place I must say that Meryl’s run up is quite impressive!

  • LoveHer

    I really enjoy that movie. I dance and sing each time.
    And I realise that I’m so lucky that I live in Greece.

  • Janette

    I agree. It NEVER fails to lift spirits. Go to the place where part of it was filmed. Skopelos in the Agean. Such a wonderful place with lovely, lovely people. We are going for the fourth time next summer.

  • PamH

    My favorite Streep film . I saw it 32 times in the theatre with different girlfriend groups. I actually got to share that with Meryl at the Charlie foundation gala. I really wish she could have won the Golden Globe for this one. That summer had been a tough one for me. The film really lifted my spirits. This movie was fun and the bond between her and Amanda Seyfried were terrific and very believable.

  • Christine

    Love,love,love the movie Mamma Mia!!! I think this is one of Meryl’s best film’s,because it shows a part of who she is in real life.Hanging out w/her girlfriends,being funny,”potty-mouthed”,singing,and having a great time!The cast & crew must have had a blast filming Mamma Mia.Being on location in a stunning,secluded part of Greece must have helped too!!

  • unika

    I guess this one baited most of her younger fans… I mean this movie is the main reason that I am now a streeper. I watched it when I was 12 and now I’m 16 and I still watch it regularly… there is just something to this movie that lightens up your mood.

  • Jane

    I absolutely love this movie because it is indeed pure joy. It may not be the most elaborate movie but it has something that many other films miss, which is a heart and soul. It exudes a joy of living that is infectious and just irresistable. I loved Meryl’s youthful energy and of course her fantastic singing!
    I also think that she owes a huge part of her current success to this film. It not only introduced her to a whole new generation of fans (including myself) but it gave her enormous box office power. Now she is more influential than she ever was which is a wonderful thing! As I understand it the script for Hope Springs has been around for years but only got greenlighted when Meryl agreed to do it. I also remember Stanley Tucci saying that they weren’t sure if Julie&Julia would have gotten made without the success of The Devil wears Prada and Mamma Mia.
    In short, it probably was one of the best things that happened to her and she was fantastic in it! I’m very happy I saw this movie because it essentially made me fall in love with Meryl.

    PS: I stumbled upon a recording of Meryl’s speech at the Charlie Foundation Gala the other day, have a look, it’s very funny and moving:

  • lindi

    I don´t know what my life would have been without Mamma Mia, I even got my dad to saw it and he said it is such a beautiful movie

  • Rebecca

    My favorite Streep movie! I´ve seen it 4 times at the cinema and several times at home. This movie makes you forget the everyday life and leaves you with a funny and happy mood. Every time I see MAMMA MIA I wish I could travel to Greece!
    And you can see in MAMMA MIA that the actors had really fun by making this movie.