film: Wilder: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

As they’re walking down a fake street in a movie lot, the middle of the night, abandoned, real headlights appear approaching through the darkness…they’re from the next scene, and that’s how the two scenes fade one into the other. Smart.

This is a perfect picture for me now, as I go between films from the 40s and 50s, and the early silents. To see what happens to Buster Keaton and Anna Q Nillson, when I think of them as young, yet now see them old in what is yet an old picture, it shakes up everything I think I know. Age, terrifying age. Much to be said about this–so I cannot say anything, really. Except this: the film begins by giving us a single fact that we know to be true. And throughout the entire film we wait, knowing that someone must die, and knowing precisely who it will not be. And that one thing that is true, ultimately, is swept from beneath us, and it’s apparent that for a long time now we’ve been living something of a lie, or perhaps that we’ve been fooled! And so many questions arise as to what reality does and does not consist of…so we become Norma Desmond, we’re forced into feeling something of her tragedy, because we become part of it, and tragedies become us, the audience without whom there’d be no stars.

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