Sunday, 5 March 2017

Adaptation B - "Mommie Dearest" (1981) & "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) reaction.

With regards to my project, I was offered a few film suggestions that reflected the tone I wanted to evoke, that tragic, aged starlet, relevant at one point in time, and still relevant in their own heads, both of these films deal with a schism created by feeling irrelevant and the mythic tragedy this brings with it. 

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Norma Desmond
So the challenge is transposing this, and adapting it into Olga. So after further reading into her character - of which very little exists, I've discovered - I found out that the character had effectively been shafted after a somewhat epic sounding story arc. In that arc, she fought in an interplanetary war, and married in order to stop it. Becoming the queen of Venus. Her past also bore interesting tidbits, something that I will focus on in a later post, but sufficed to say, she experienced a lot of abuse during her childhood, which I feel like will affect her outlook as an older person. 

So, in a discussion with Phil, he noted that the interesting part there was that she was shelved. Obsolete in some way, and that's what I should be focusing on. He recommended that I watch Sunset Boulevard, so I did. 

After viewing "Sunset Boulevard" I happened on the idea that my character - Olga Mesmer - the first female superhero in comics, would follow a similar path to Norma Desmond in terms of the 'aftermath' of her career. Would Olga experience the same maddening irrelevance as Norma? Indeed, it seemed as though she would. Living in a decrepit old mansion surrounded by heirlooms of her past, herself effectively living in the past, Norma lives in the waning light of her stardom. The ultimate gut punch being when we learn that her butler - a creepy almost omnipresent manservant - is actually one of her ex husbands. Himself, trapped in the faded stars enacting of the past. The whole film basks in this potent twilight, and you find yourself silently hoping that things could just go in Norma's favour. The ending almost paradoxically grants Norma her fame back, whilst also damning her to a life in prison for murdering Joe Gillis; the dual nature of this ending furthering the complexity of Norma's condition, for all at once she displays an awareness of her own irrelevance, whilst also displaying an uncanny ability to lie to herself about the nature of her reality. 

From this I took that I should focus on the twilight years, with an older Olga. Though I encountered a problem. After further research into Olga Mesmer, I had discovered that she had been granted 'unaging immortality' at the end of her original story. But again, after further talking with both Phil & Alan, it became clear to me that age can be more than just a physical attribute, age affects the mind. So again, I asked myself what would Olga be like in that circumstance? 

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Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford
Phil had a few more film suggestions after that, One of which was "Mommie Dearest" - rudimentary docu-drama focusing on Joan Crawford, again, in her twilight years. Whilst the subject matter focused mainly on her fracture psyche caused by fame, and the subsequent abuse of her adopted daughter. So the threads of what I could use for Olga were less apparent here, but were certainly to be found, and find them I did. Again, this film demonstrated to me the self importance caused by fame, the sadness that hung around its subjects who were in it's light and falling out of it. All of these things helped me form a more cogent idea of what Olga would be like, say, 40-50 years down the line, regardless of physical condition. 

So, attitudinally, I have something to work on. There are a few things that Alan suggested in our last meeting regarding to format, and an extremely interesting suggestion that I look at the opening of Watchmen for inspiration. Especially as I had mentioned to him that I saw Olga as someone that could be a feminist icon in some kind of alt-world situation. I will follow that trail of thought up in another post though...

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