Thursday, November 25, 2010
Everything old is new again
This clip is so beautiful, it's from the incredible film All That Jazz. My dear, dear friend Katey showed this to me when she was still here in Melbourne. Katey used to dance for the Moulin Rouge and she now lives in London, pursuing her dream of becoming a performer on the West End and is ridiculously talented and beautiful.
Even though I am not a dancing fanatic (actually I am the most uncoordinated person alive and should be shot before trying to partake in any dancefloor on the planet) or a dancing superstar like Katey, I still fell completely head over heels in love with this picture.
This scene isn't nearly as poignant or stunning unless you know the story behind it. Bob Fosse directed this film, he was (quoting wikipedia..) "an American actor, dancer, musical theater choreographer, director, screenwriter, film editor and film director"; a brilliant man who was way ahead of his time.
Made in 1979, All That Jazz was a semi-autobiographical film which Fosse co-wrote and directed. It "portayed the life of a womanising, drug-addicted choreographer-director in the midst of triumph and failure", aka Fosse himself. I highly recommend this picture, it blows my mind.
This scene shows Joe Gideon (or rather, Bob Fosse, played by Roy Scheider) at home with his live-in lover Kate Jagger (Anne Reinking), and his daughter Michelle (Erzsébet Földi). By this stage in the film we know that Joe is an exceptionally talented and revered man in the world of show business. We are also aware that he incessantly cheats on his devoted girlfriend and neglects his gorgeous daughter, and pretty much emotionally obliterates everyone who loves him. Despite all of this, his girls absolutely worship him, and they put on this beautiful show for him in his house, both petrified of his critical eye.
The bond shared between Kate and Michelle is so touching. It makes you want to throw a glass of water in Gideon's face and alert him to the fact that he is a fool for playing up the way he does. But he is so charismatic, powerful, successful, and pretty bad ass too with all his drinking and pill popping that we can't help but love him in spite of his abysmal flaws, just like his girls do.
What makes this film all the more intriguing is that clearly Bob Fosse was an incredibly self-aware, maybe even self-loathing man, given how negatively Joe Gideon is portayed in the picture. Yet once again, it is most likely because he recognises his faults that you have to still admire and kind of adore the man. Every scene in this film is magic, but this one has stayed with me since I first saw it and it will probably remain with me for life. (P.s. I love the late 70's wardrobe and interior too. So perfect.)