Sunset Boulevard

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The movie “Sunset Boulevard” is a 1950 American film nior directed and co-written by Billy Willder . “Sunset Boulevard” is the portrait of a forgotten silent star, living in exile in her outrageous massive mansion, screening her old films, while dreaming of a comeback. But it’s also a love story, and the love keeps it from becoming a freak show. Gloria Swanson gives an out of this world performance as the silent star Norma Desmond, with her claw like grasping talons, her theatrical mannerisms, her elaborate delusions. William Hollden tactfully inhabits the tricky role of the writer half her age, who allows himself to be kept by her. The clip we watched in class from the film was a scene between the dramatic Desma and journalist Gillis. The mise-en-scene starts off with Joe dressed up in a suit and bow tie walking down the staircase like a senior on her high school prom. The camera follows him down to a private ballroom party Norma has planned. The visual design for this piece is, Norma is dressed in a long black gown with a veil, which somewhat symbolizes wedding attire. Her hair is curled and pinned up, and her makeup is intense. The set is set up to look like a fancy ballroom, with tile flooring, crystal champagne glasses, and an orchestra playing in the background. The music is slow, methodical, and romantic yet, there is an awkward tension in the room. Joe is obviously not into Norma, he is very stiff while waltzing with her, and shows signs that he doesn’t want to get too close when she is wearing that veil. He makes her take it off before they can proceed with the dancing. This part really stuck out to me, once the head piece is taken off, the camera follows it to the ground and focuses how she just threw it aggressively. I feel the throwing focal point of the camera is to show that she is angry that she got all dressed up to be shot down by Joe. The way Norma’s character almost makes the scariest facial expressions during this film really adds to the storyline. She takes every second as she is in front of the camera and playing a role on scene. This adds a good foreshadowing to the end of the movie when she shoots Joe and he falls into the pool. When the press and police come to her house and visit, she is overwhelmed with excitement to be back in front of the cameras again. Not only does Norma play a crazy character to joe and the audience, she is psycho enough to murder someone in real life.



One thought on “Sunset Boulevard

  1. I thought it was funny/smart how you described the film as a love story and if there were no love it would simply be a freak show. The way Norma can’t accept the fact that her acting career is over and how dialogue in film is the new thing. The one thing I would recommend is after you introduce the actors Gloria Swanson and William Hollden I would make a new paragraph leading into your interpretation of the ballroom scene. Overall this blog post is awesome and I liked how you broke down the characters strengths within their acting.


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