Sunday, March 18, 2012

1920s - Sophisticated Elegance

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Casually holding her cigarette, Holly Golightly gazes at the camera with her careless confidence. Sophisticated, elegant are the words to describe her - the exact words 1920s falls into – sophisticated elegance. 

Carefully combed hair, perfectly fit tuxedo and casual decadent flappers are only ones of the many example of this sophisticated elegance. Glenn Miller's Jazz music, Scott Joplin's rag time (e.g. the all famous  Entertainer, originally composed as soundtrack for The Sting),  Peg Leg Bates' one legged tap dancing show all the excitement and hype of the Roaring Twenties.

All these aren't too far away from us when The Artist and Midnight in Paris - all set in the 1920s - found their way in nowadays cinema

The black and white silence in The Artist does not dampen any interests but only serve to remind us in this midst of vulgar CG effect or blind production of 3D movies what we want is only sincere originality - something that long ceases to exist since the 1920s.

In a slightly different context, Midnight in Paris recounted all the buzz and noise of the Americans on the French soil. Meeting writers as eminent as Hemingway and Fitzgerald in person in the movie is like taking a trip by time machine back to the 1920s

The dazzling bright light of this Roaring Twenties casts a long shadow of decadence which is all the more attractive. I can not but to lend Fitzgerald's words in The Great Gatsby to describe it:

"Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiteer in New York -  Every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves. There was a machine in the kitchen which could extract the juice of two hundred oranges in half an hour if a little button was pressed two hundred times by a butler's thumb.

At least once a fortnight a corps of caters came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough coloured lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby 's enormous garden. On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors - d'oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another. 

By seven o'clock the orchestra has arrived, no thin five - piece affair, but a whole pitful of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos, and low and high drums. The last swimmers have come in from the breach now and are dressing upstairs; the cars from New York are parked five deep in the drive, and already the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colours, and hair bobbed in strange new ways, and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile. The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introduction forgotten on the sport, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other's names. "

The lavish waste, heavy percussion jazz and chaotic chats do not suggest any of the moral decay ( if there is such thing as morality) but only the beauty of decadence.

Reaching the peak, this Golden Age, like all other advanced civilisations, is destined to a downfall – opening the door for Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression, chaos, bloodshed and massacre from the Second World War. 

1 comment:

ThinkingNut said...

I suppose there is beauty in every age. What might seem elegance for some of us is boring and out-dated to others. One man's meat, another's poison. While I do agree that the things from the 20s and 30s were the epitome of class and skill, that's just my opinion.

I would be careful in using words like 'vulgar cg' and whatnot. There have been times where cg actually is used effectively. After all, everything nowadays are just tools to be used too much, too little, or just right. Think of the new 2010 movie of "The Adventures of Tintin". The live performances recaptured with CG worked very well, don't you think?