Sunday, November 16, 2014

Silent Sundays: Moulin Rouge (1928)

“I love my daughter and my work—my daughter because I am her mother—my work because it keeps me young”

            If I were to go back in time for a visit (not to stay. I would never want to go and actually live in the past, I just want to go for a visit) I would love to visit 1920s Paris. I have mentioned it a few times on here, but in case you have not read this blog before here is why: I would want to hang out with all the surrealist artists in this time. I really enjoy learning about the surrealists especially Man Ray, I love his photography. I would love to have been part of that art scene and hang around all the expatriates at that time as well. I feel like Owen Wilson’s character from Midnight in Paris, but for me it is not a cliché. I have a degree in Art History and one of my favorite time periods to study in terms of art and general history is Paris in the 1920s.
            Just imagining all the debauchery that was happening then and all the great times people were having living it up in Paris. I think it is a dream almost everyone has. One place in Paris that has captured the imagination of all Francophiles for generations is the Moulin Rouge. Some may think of the musical (which sucked, **ducking flying objects**). It is a theater and burlesque/risqué dancing and shows happened. The theater was a profession high society frowned upon. Unlike today where we worship people of the stage and those in the entertainment industry, in the early 1900s the stage was vulgar. The ladies of the theater were sinful and lustful and lured men with money to their doom with their siren call. The Moulin Rouge was one of those theaters filled with sinful, lustful women. Well, according to the 1928 film version it was.
            In the silent film, men and women from all levels and classes of society gather at the Moulin Rouge to watch the reviews. A marquis waits backstage for the main attraction, Paysia, in her dressing room. Paysia receives a letter from her daughter Margaret that she has returned to Paris and wants to her.
Click the image to open in full size.
            Margaret’s fiancé, Andre, come with her to meet Paysia. They meet her at the theater while she is on stage. Andre comments that Paysia is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, besides Margaret of course. The moment Andre lays eyes on Paysia in person his face takes on a lustful appearance.
            Andre has not told his family that he plans to marry Margaret. His father is an old fashioned aristocrat. The father had forbid Andre from seeing Margaret because her mother is a dancer. Paysia feels terrible because she can see how much her daughter loves Andre. The next morning at breakfast it is not Margaret Andre pays attention to. He looks lustfully at Paysia the entire time basically ignoring Margaret.
            Paysia goes to speak to Andre’s father. She can see Margaret loves Andre so she wants to try to talk some sense into the father for her daughter’s sake. She tells the father that greater calamities could befall his son than marrying the daughter of an actress. Before she leaves, Paysia cries and purposely leaves her handkerchief behind. The next day Paysia receives a letter from the father that he will allow their marriage, or so she tells her daughter and fiancé. Margaret goes out of the room. Paysia asks Andre when he plans on marrying her daughter. He falls to his knees and says it depends on her, he wants to marry Paysia. She like Andre as well but does not want to lead him on.
            Things happen. Andre is a jerk and is a jerk to the point where he had planned to drive out to his father’s house and kill himself by loosening the breaks. He was going to kill himself because he loves Paysia and Margaret but he cannot choose. He becomes sick with nerves so Margaret decides to take his car out to the father’s house. The phone rings. Paysia picks it up. Andre tells her the call might be someone telling her that Margaret is dead and he confesses what he did to the breaks. He races with Paysia’s car to catch up to Margaret. He reaches her but they still wind up crashing. Paysia gets a call that her daughter has been badly hurt and has to have surgery. She goes to her show that night but can barely do the show. She has a break down in her dressing room between numbers.
            Have no fear dear reader! Margaret (barely) pulls through surgery. Paysia tells Andre that he has been redeemed.

            Moulin Rouge was a bore. I knew right from the beginning that Andre was going to lust after the mother and by some tragic occurrence would return to Margaret. Well, I have to say that I thought Paysia would sacrifice herself but thankfully she did not. I did like the direction especially the scenes panning through the crowds at the theater. I do believe that it captured that care-free spirit of the 1920s as well as that struggle between the new and the tradition that was pushing and pulling some unfortunates at the time. The scenes in the Moulin Rouge are how my dreams of Paris in the 1920s are like. It is not a totally realistic view it is a dream Paris. Moulin Rouge is not a silent film I highly recommend seeing. If you do want to watch it at some point it is available to view in full on YouTube. 

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