Sunset Boulevard Modernism

The film Sunset Boulevard was created in 1950 and utilizes both techniques from classical and modernism filmmaking. The plot is relatively straightforward although the fact that it is bookended. All of the questions are answered and everything is resolved. Initially the audience is introduced to Joe Gillis, who is floating in a pool dead. This scene sets up the entire film and essentially the entire film is how Joe ended up in the pool. Eventually Joe meets up with Norma Desmond, at the old silent movie stars house, and agrees to edit her paper. Here the audience can sense traits of modernism through the character of Joe. It is unclear what he is doing with Norma at first. He is reluctant to stay with her and it seems that Joe doesn’t care for the old star. As the plot develops, Joe’s relationship with Norma shifts. Norma starts taking care of Joe buying him suits, lavish meals, and even restores the pool solely for him. However Joe and Norma’s relationship is erratic. Norma has appeared to fall in love with Joe but Joe has different feelings. After a fight, Joe leaves the mansion to attend a New Year’s Eve party. Once there he runs into Betty, the fiancé of one of his friends. When Joe left the mansion, he was eager to leave and maybe never return. Despite all of this, Joe calls the Norma while he is at the party and discovers that she has tried to commit suicide. Upon hearing this Joe rushes back to Norma. The character Joe does not follow characters of classical filmmaking. His motivations are constantly shifting and it is unclear what his endgame is. Joe shifts again with Betty. When the first two meet Betty is critiquing Joe’s screenplays. She states that they are boring and overall dull. The two don’t seem to get along at all but as the film progressives their relationship does at well. Joe initially wants no part of Betty and even warns here to physically stay away from him while the two are working on their script. Betty is engaged to one of Joe’s friends and it appears that Joe has values. Later the two embrace and once again Joe has shifted his motivation. Max, Norma’s butler also acts much like a character from modernism. It is clear that he wants to keep Norma happy but consistently reveals information to Joe. For instance, Norma claims that her fans write her to this day. Max soon reveals to Joe that he is the one who sends those letters. When the three are all together, Joe confronts Max about the letters and Max is silent. His motivations are unclear. Although Sunset Boulevard follows the narrative of classical filmmaking, its characters clearly have modernism tendencies


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