Friday, March 07, 2008

Sunset Boulevard

The term “Sunset Boulevard” can refer to several things: a street, a film, a musical and a song. In this short presentation we will mainly focus on the street and the film.
First, Sunset Boulevard is an icon of the Hollywood legend. This famous street in Los Angeles connects Hollywood to Malibu. It also passes through Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, among others. The boulevard is 22 miles long, which corresponds to 35 kilometers. From this street, tourists can contemplate the sunset on the Pacific Ocean, hence its name. The streets in Los Angeles are usually straight, but this one is particular because there are many curves. This winding form sometimes leads to car accidents and often to traffic jams at rush hours. Since the 1970s, a part of the Sunset Boulevard has had the reputation of being a “prostitution street”. For the anecdote, it was in this street that Hugh Grant was caught with a prostitute in a public place and he was arrested for lewd conduct. What can you find in Sunset Boulevard? The most famous part of the street is Sunset Strip, the nightlife centre in Los Angeles. The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is located there too. Finally, Sunset Boulevard is also known for its many music shops.

Second, “Sunset Boulevard” is the name of a film launched in 1950, directed by Billy Wilder. The two main actors are William Holden and Gloria Swanson. Let’s start with a short summary. It begins with the view of a dead man, Joe Gillis, lying in a swimming pool. The rest of the film is based on his flashback of the last six months of his life. Joe Gillis was an unsuccessful screenwriter. By chance, he met Norma Desmond, an ex-star of the silent cinema. As they both wished to achieve fame again, she proposed him to make a new film with her. He agreed, but very soon became financially dependent on her. Things got complicated when Norma told Joe she had fallen in love with him. Hearing this he left her and went to a friend’s where he met Betty. Joe was told that Norma had tried to kill herself and decided to go back to her, but carried on his secret romance with Betty all the while. Norma discovered it and threatened to commit suicide. Joe did not take it seriously. Furious and jealous Norma shot him and he fell dead in the swimming pool. The media arrives to report the sudden death of the screenwriter. Norma, lost in imagination, acts as an actress in a new film. Her dream to appear on the screen again has finally come true, but in an unexpected way (final scene). The film was named after the famous Sunset Boulevard because the street appears in several scenes and the whole story takes place in the surroundings of the boulevard. The film shows the devastating influence that the studio system of Hollywood can have on stars.
Anne & Delphine

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