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Announcing “En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon”

I’ve always been in awe of ballet dancers. The commitment, the grace, the appearance of effortlessness and weightlessness, the total control of every muscle that is moved, the power and yet the beauty. I’ve always thought of ballet dancers as occupying a position at the peak of physical prowess and dance.

In that spirit, I am delighted to announce – in conjunction with Love Letters to Old Hollywood – “En Point: The Ballet Blogathon!” And I am so grateful to Michaela for co-hosting with me!

The blogathon is devoted to all-things ballet related on film. Anything balletic at all. A film that features a ballet, a film about ballet dancers, filmed-versions of actual ballets. Any movie from any period at all, as long as it contains something about ballet.

We are also making an exception and allowing reviews of Esther Williams and Ice-skating. We only ask that you emphasize the ballet side of those films.

When:  August 4th & 5th, 2017

Rules: Because of the diversity of ballet films and topics available, we are only allowing two people to write about any given film.

To sign-up, simply leave us your blog name, blog address, and the film or topic you wish to cover in the comments section below. On either of the two days of the blogathon, all you have to do is provide either Michaela or me a link to your post and we will add it to our completed list of posts. Also, please feel free to grab one of the banner found below (created by my good friend Andrea from Into the Writer Lea) and help us advertise the event.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me or Love Letters to Old Hollywood. I will be so excited to read everyone’s contributions. I always come away from a blogathon with my horizons expanded…as well as my to-watch list.

Participants 

Love Letters to Old Hollywod – Shall We Dance (1937) and Ten Favorite Water Ballets from Esther Williams

Christina Wehner – A Winter’s Tale (Royal Ballet, 2015)

Into the Writer Lea – The Glass Slipper (1955)

Caftan Woman – The Mad Genius (1931)

Thoughts All Sorts – Ballerina (aka Leap) (2016)

Cinematic Scribblings – The Red Shoes (1948)

Blogferatu – The Black Swan (2010)

Reelweegiemidget Reviews – The Black Swan (2010)

Life’s Daily Lessons Blog –  Song of Scheherazade (1947)

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You – Center Stage (2000)

Taking Up Room –  Save the Last Dance (2001) and An American in Paris (1951)

 Critica Retro – Never Let Me Go (1953)

An Ode to Dust – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – On the Town (1949)

The Movie Rat – Dreams in Suspiria (1977), George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (1993) and Billy Elliot (2000)

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

Screen Life – The Turning Point (1977)

The Midnite Drive-In – White Nights (1985)

Silver Scenes – The Unfinished Dance (1947) and Russian Ballet Films of the 1940s-1960s

Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews – Limelight (1952)

 
28 Comments

Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Movies

 

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Aside

I realized after writing my post that I had  not expressed my thought completely. Perhaps instead of calling it “rules of the genre” I should have called it “rules of expression.” Different art forms have different rules about how one’s thoughts and feelings are expressed. For example, in poetry there are rules about rhyme and meter. In ballet, there are rules about movement and music without words. In silent films, the rules of expression involve images, mime, and music. I think musicals simply create a different world, with different rules. Just like a fantasy creates a different world with its own rules: magic and dragons and special abilities. I guess I feel that if one can accept magic, why not song?

Though I totally understand if one is not into dance or song. If you don’t like ballet, then The Red Shoes is probably not for you. If you don’t like lots of action/fight sequences, then probably not Avengers. Do you not like gangster violence? Probably not Scarface. But that puts it down to preferences, not something inherently wrong with musicals.

Further Thoughts on Reality and Rules of Genre

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Lili (1953)

lili_film_posterI can’t quite make up my mind about Lili. Is it sweet or a trifle disturbing? Is it a musical or a movie with musical numbers? Is it too short or just not fleshed out by the actors? I’m not even quite sure if I liked it or not. I think I did.

The story is based on a short story by Paul Gallico, which was later turned into a novella while the film was still playing in the theaters. The story is darker, from what I understand, which might account for the feeling that there is something dark beneath the surface of the musical.

Lili (Leslie Caron) is a naive sixteen year old orphan who falls in with a carnival and falls in love with the magician, Marco the Magnificent (Jean-Pierre Aumont), a shameless ladies man who is secretly married to his assistant, Rosalie (Zsa Zsa Gabor), but doesn’t want anyone to know. He gets Lili a job as a waitress at the carnival, but she’s too clumsy (it was funny to see Caron playing a clumsy child, since she is neither clumsy nor a child – she was 21).

But when Lili thinks she must part from Marco and tries to commit suicide, she is prevented by puppeteer Paul Barthelet (Mel Ferrer), who uses his puppets to coax her away from the tall ladder she was going to jump off. There is an instant and charming rapport between her and the puppets and Paul asks her to join his show and their show soon attracts the attention of several important men from Paris who want to take the show out of the carnival.

Paul himself has fallen in love with Lili, but is completely unable to express it. A deeply gloomy and morose man, Paul was formerly a dancer, until his leg was injured during the war (I assume WWII). Now, he is angry at most everything and the only way he can express himself is through his four puppets: Golo the giant, Carrot Top, Marguerite the ballerina and Reynardo the fox.

lili1953_81426_678x380_01252016050229In fact, in a curious way, the heart of the film is between Lili and the four puppets, who she bonds with almost as if they were real, forgetting that Paul is the one behind them. In fact, it is her relationship with the puppets that forms the basis of her romance with Paul, when she finally realizes that everything she loves about the puppets is really coming from Paul.

I have to say, however, that I’m not at all sure how I feel about Mel Ferrer’s performance. He is almost too creepy, a possessive lover just waiting to happen. A bit stiff, too. Leslie Caron, however, seems perfect. She make her naive character relatable and believable as she grows wiser to the world. She also gets a few dances in the film, with the big one being the dream-dance where she comes to realize that behind each puppet she loves is the man she loves.

Jean-Pierre Aumont is also quite convincing as the magician who is all flash, but no substance. One also can’t help but feel for his long-suffering wife, determined to stay with him even though she knows what kind of man he is. It’s hard not to predict a grim future for her.

But on the whole, there is something very charming about the idea behind Lili, though something just doesn’t quite work and I can’t put my finger on what it is The film is only 80 minutes. Did it need to be longer? Know the characters better? Was it Mel Ferrer I found unconvincing? But still, something fairy-tale-ish and charming remains behind. It’s a unique film. It is set in a carnival, which forms the backdrop of the story, but the real world is between Lili and the puppets. A world of affection, gentleness, human frailty and forgiveness, wisdom, vulnerability and perfect trust.

This post was written as part of the At The Circus Blogathon, hosted by Critica Retro and Serendipitous Anachronisms. Be sure to look up all the other great posts!

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“Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo” – music written by Bronsilaw Kaper and lyrics by Helen Deutsch.

 
26 Comments

Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Movies

 

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