“A dream that you strive for, can be the one that unfolds you.”
“Sunset Boulevard” is the next film that I’ve picked up(directed by Billy Wilder). It’s a very interesting film, one that is very different from modern filmmaking. It is black and white, and narrated by our fellow protagonist throughout the narrative. The narrative follows a young screenwriter who is struggling financially, and finding his payments on his car insufficient, goes through a series of unfortunate events find himself in the seemingly abandoned house of an aging silent film queen. She hires him for what seems to me to be comfort from the outside world and someone to impress. She also hires him to edit a script she wrote, which is very long and stars her a tad too much. The young screenwriter believes he can manipulate this narcissistic queen but he finds himself trapped in a madhouse.
This is a smart film. It isn’t too large for it’s narrative, it’s a sort of confined plot yet has large ideas. The screenwriter is uptight yet finds his sympathy when he realizes even the people who live on the mountain tops of glory, can tumble down. The score is magnificent. The sounds show the human spirit that encompasses each scene charmingly. The actress is consumed in false imaginations, false realities. Maybe she has some doubt, and maybe that is why she seeks the company of the man. She feels her grasp of glory slipping drastically and doesn’t want to admit the truth. The lady feels she has to rapidly impress frequently. The butler is to keep her in check.
I love how all the characters are human. They have arches and can be emotionally invested in. Even the side characters. You see the screenwriter begins to fall deeper and deeper into the trap. His outside world has become his inside. The abandoned house has become his home. His home to make sense of all his incoherent thoughts, to piece together meaning out of his life. The actress is simply a tool to distract his direction, his purpose. His companions on the outside who were uninterested in any project of his, are now pulling at his coattails. You see? These are some serious arches.
As the narrative progresses, what impresses me, is that it progresses the characters. The actress who has been a reclusive has begun to step into the outside world. She may not be ready for the judgement, or the change the filmmaking world has come to. She was living in a distorted world, relying on her judgement and hers only. She is contrasted greatly with the reality of life. She has been subject to her own consequence. The crowd that has begun to construct a more fine throne has not aided her in her cause. I also enjoy how the narrative seemingly switches points of view and it feels natural.
When we switch to her point of view it is for a purpose and that is something that should be longed for in modern films. We needed to spend time with her. We needed to reside in her mind, in the moments that could greatly impact her current reality (I apologize for the vagueness, I’m not trying to spoil anything).
Also what struck me is the way the film dances around the subject of romance and intimacy. In this time of Hollywood, there were limitations on the way intimacy could be expressed. You couldn’t actually show true romance unless you had a marriage, it had to be so clean and polished. This film plays with that subject. This film submerges you, without you really noticing, in a thrilling love triangle. The love triangle is greatly through the deep character motivations. Both the women were radically different. One was an old Hollywood queen, while the other was an up and coming writer. One was already in a relationship with the young screenwriter, who has come full circle, in terms of her emotional attachment between him, and the other is a newcomer. The young writer is engaged with another man, while the actress lives with herself, alone (but she wouldn’t admit it. She is well content with her old fame and distortions). There you go, a young woman, young, playful, and newly engaged, messing around with another man. I can’t imagine how the audience might feel back then. They must have been magnificently surprised. They must’ve loved it as well because not only was this a new territory in film, it was written very well.
Typically, I wouldn’t bother with black and white films but this was intriguing to me. I searched the webs and read magnificent things about it, so I tried it. Usually, when I care to watch a black and white film, I am drastically inattentive because of the seemingly dull dialogue but this had a immersing plot. Every character had their secrets, that would be unraveled to further the plot. Their was mystery around every corner and we were along for the ride. Every character was tossed into the bowl, to be tossed around in this game. The instrument was constructed by the motivations of the characters, the humanistic qualities, the twists and turns of their inquisitive nature. Then, they were strung ever so gracefully at the right moments, to pull a string, to strike the same chord as the audience. We are now on the edge of our seats waiting for what comes next.
I would definitely recommend this film, and you won’t believe the ending of it.
Thank you for reading, as always.