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And the stark final image is of a body bag being zipped up as, on the soundtrack, Ethel Merman belts out There's No Business Like Show Business."Because of the visual pageantry that goes before that image," says Shankman, "you leave [the film] thinking, 'Wow', rather than, 'How depressing.' And Joe has to die because the whole movie is about him dying.It would be a big lie if he lived, and no audience appreciates being lied to."The scenes with the angel of death are sexy, I think.
As work deadlines loom, Joe's health deteriorates, he ends up in hospital, and a final, very personal deadline is in prospect. Looking back, Shankman can see why he came to love the film so much. "It was so totally new in so many ways: it had an outrageous visual style, plus it was so wildly personal."And that, I suggest, is quite a rarity – a film so rawly, unflinchingly autobiographical."Yes," he says. Self-indulgence is only bad when it's boring."And Joe is far from boring. "We hate him for the way he abuses the women in his life.All That Jazz features a number of elaborately staged dance sequences, which, says Shankman, were not achieved without enormous effort."Dance seen live has an energy that's extremely vibrant."But my editor [on Hairspray] was Fosse's music editor, and he told me these stories about him, how he'd be like, 'Aw, that's not really me.' But still, he said, it was incredibly uncomfortable sitting there, watching Fosse editing a scene in which his character is editing a scene. However, for the "hero", he is frequently hard to identify with or like. But then we love him for his humour, and I think we all feel sad about the fact that basically he kills himself by the way he lives."Indeed, for all that All That Jazz is a film about filmmaking and the agony of the creative process, it is essentially a film about a man dying.The narrative is punctuated by scenes in which Joe sits backstage in ruminative conversation with Angelique (Jessica Lange), a figure veiled in white, who is clearly the angel of death.