Wednesday, April 24, 2013

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: A Star Is Born


Welcome back to Hit me with your best shot, as we look at our 3rd Judy Garland film (Nathaniel is clearly a fan) - "A Star Is Born". It's often classified as a musical, which is somewhat misleading considering the usual comedic connotations of gleeful singing and dancing. In fact, Judy Garland is the only person who actually sings in the movie and the plot is very much a drama. It reminded me of this year's Golden Globe situation where the most dramatic film of the year (Les Miserables) was categorized alongside real comedies! Likewise, this film is quite easily one of the most tragic stories ever told. In choosing my shot, I had quite a varied selection but I went with one that captures this tragedy.

Click below for my favourite shot...


When it was announced that we would be doing this film, my mind immediately went to that fateful ending. My favourite shot indeed comes from this scene, as we see Norman Maine taking his last glances at his beloved wife. Maine has such an interesting character arc and James Mason pulls it off very well. From the moment the mailman calls him "Mr. Lester", we can just sense this eternal sadness engulfing him. It eventually leads to this devastating situation as we are uncomfortably privy to this monumental decision. Based on my movie-watching memory, we often see suicides depicted from the aftermath stage or during the act. In this case however, we get to see him slowly ruminate over the decision. Even if he doesn't actually speak, we can easily read his mind as he mentally debates his life's worth. It's quite a devastating thing to watch. This particular image and moment is actually quite calm and peaceful but as we know, those reflected waves are ominous. You know the rest.

7 comments:

  1. Great choice! James Mason plays it so well, his whole performance is wonderful. When I watched recently to decide on what I thought the best shot was one of my choices was the scene preceding this one where he listens in torment as Esther tells Oliver Niles that she is going to throw her career and life away to try and rescue him again. The pain on his face at the realization that what Oliver tells her, that there is nothing left to save, is true is so moving.

    The other shot you have at the top of the article was another one of the choices I picked from, there are really so many great shots in the film it was tough to decide. Cukor did a great job of illustrating by the simple shot of the empty chair that even at that moment of Esther's triumph because of Norman she is isolated and alone.

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    1. Thanks. James Mason really is quite amazing in this. One thing I noticed on this viewing was his voice. It sounds so sophisticated and it kind of emphasizes his descent into failure. The preceding scene for my chosen shot is definitely part of what I was referring to in the writeup. Watching him ruminate over that decision is so devastating.

      The other shot reminded me of when I read about Nicole Kidman and her Oscar win. I remember her saying that it was very bittersweet as she had recently divorced and had no one to share the joy with. Ester's initial reaction when she wins the award definitely showed that and that empty chair is such a strong visual statement too.

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  2. That is a great shot. When I saw it, it made me think of Tom Hanks looking at his son towards the end of Road to Perdition. Different context entirely, but they are both gazing upon their future.

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  3. i hadn't realized i'd chosen a judy garland picture like every scene. OOPSIE. obsessive much?

    thanks as ever for playing along!

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