Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

"And I promise you I'll never desert you again because after Salome we'll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life! It always will be! There's nothing else! Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark! All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" - Norma Desmond

I weep for Desmond as I do for the Golden Age of Hollywood, the silent era, and for the passing of great directors: the Kurosawas, the Hitchcocks, the Truffauts, and the Wilders of course.

Billy Wilder has made more than a perfect film. Sunset Boulevard is the film any filmmaker worth their salt should see. Nothing is more gut-wrenching than that sequence on the Paramount sound stage, everyone on DeMille's set lovingly crowding around Desmond. Her fantasy world is the cinema of yesteryear. Yet she isn't passively enjoying it the way a modern audience does, captivated by the era while acknowledging the world they live in is a world they must live in. She has embalmed herself in the past, and when the illusion comes crashing down, she lashes out. It's a Greek tragedy, and Swanson plays it like Oedipus in terms of intensity. Beautifully shot by John Seitz, masterfully scored by the great Franz Waxman, and written and directed at peak perfection. Sunset Boulevard may forever be the street where the past restlessly writhes in a delusion of grandeur.

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