Velvet Goldmine

Saturday, 17 October 2009

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The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.

-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Velvet Goldmine, directed by Todd Haynes, ranks as one of my favourite films. It's always nice to write about a film you adore. It's an adaptation of multiple things: of real people (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Oscar Wilde), real historical contexts (the late nineteenth century and the late 1970s) and real literature (The Picture of Dorian Gray, a multitude of Wilde plays). I can't help feeling that despite all its glitter and glam, it's primarily a film about trauma: the trauma of forging an identity, the trauma of love and the trauma of history.

It's a convoluted film which doesn't follow a linear storyline and this perhaps signals its questioning of linear history. It shamelessly flaunts the idea that gender, like history, is a performance. Much attention is given to the stage as a site of historical analysis and identity construction. I always feel for the characters in this film, even the unlovable ones. I feel that history is like a dead weight upon their shoulders. And I do just want to give Christian Bale's character a hug and smudge his lipstick. I'm making this sound like a rather sad little film aren't I? It isn't, it's quite fun and energetic too. Just be prepared to think behind the glitter and makeup. And be prepared to encounter history in a distorted light. Somewhere in the midst of this inherited history is also a deeply personal story of illicit love. But I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen it.


amy said...

if you need an illustrator for your little film book let me know :) x

Sundari said...

I always love your film reviews Hila. I am enjoying watching your blog evolve as well.

Miss Erinna said...

I havent seen this film but it sounds wonderful. Lovely writing.
Miss Erinna

Mary-Laure said...

One more movie I need to see - just got back from watching Where The Wild Things Are, which I'll blog about soon.

And Oscar Wilde! One of my heroes.

marie said...

need to see this :)
love your reviews.

CeCe said...

Very nice review! I like this film quite a bit and enjoy what you have to say about it.

Now I have "The Ballad of Maxwell Demon" stuck in my head...

Katherine Lee said...

that is seriously one of my favorite movies ever! as soon as i saw the opening screen on your blog, i was like, "Yes!" thanks so much for stopping by and commenting over at urban flea!

xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

Hila said...

Thank you for your comments everyone, much appreciated :)

Make it Easy said...

ooh this movie looks cool!

Hila said...

It's quite lovely, I highly recommend it.