Sunday, March 8, 2009

Not Cool...Just Contrasting

I’m a little kid at heart. I still enjoy going to parks and swinging forever. Spinning in circles with a dress on just because I like the way it flows out. Ordering macaroni and cheese from the restaurant menu when I see that it is a Sides option. So my 5-year-old mentality explains the first part of my blog this week.

In the movie Blowup, Thomas is a busy photographer who is constantly on the run, which contrasts with his inside desire to freeze time and capture the perfect moment, which he somewhat accomplishes through his profession. This contrast between chaos and order is also seen in his studio. He works in a ridiculously cluttered studio built in a completely impractical fashion. Support beams are awkwardly placed so that characters have to duck to avoid knocking their heads, couches are extremely low to the ground, and doors are set in and lead to the weirdest of places. This reminded me of (5-year-old mentality, here I come) the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The factory is shown in the beginning as a desolate place, where “nobody goes in, nobody comes out.” It is grey, intimidating, and uninviting. However, once the doors open, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is exactly the opposite. The chocolate river, the candy forest, the golden eggs, and rooms beyond rooms full of various candy is perhaps the most inviting setting any child could dream of. Contrasting to the dismal outside, the inside is warm, bright, and sweet (literally). Just like Thomas, the outward depiction of the Chocolate Factory does not represent what lies inside.

Thomas also finds a contrast between the kinds of photos he takes for his job and the kind of photos is desires to take. He is a well-known fashion photographer, surrounded by beautiful women with expensive clothes, expensive tastes, and expensive attitudes. However, Thomas truly desires to take pictures of real life, of suffering, loss and defeat. Those pictures are quite the opposite of the flashy, superficial fashion industry. This reminded me of something that happened to American Idol Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson. For her third album, BMG/RCA’s Clive Davis insisted on Kelly recording songs written by other artists, which is what she had done for her first two albums. Kelly had other plans, and desired to write her own songs. In a way, she was tired of the superficial cookie-cutter songs that did not come from inside her. She wanted to write about her life…all suffering, loss and defeat included. Sometimes it’s not enough to be in a career you love and not get to be yourself. This is obvious from both Thomas and Kelly Clarkson. Personally I think it’s cool when artists are willing to write songs from the heart, exposing their stories and experiences to the judgment of their fans. That takes guts…and it seems to work.


  1. I love your comparison to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Anna. Was there any particular part in Willy Wonka or Blowup that reminded you of the other movie, or was it just kind of a general thought?

  2. I agree that genuine people seem to be the coolest; the ones who put on a visage to try to be cool aren't, like in Play it Again,Sam.

    It's funny that you brought up Willy Wonka because I think that movie is scary, and I can't figure out why everybody likes it so much. What is cool about it that I'm missing because I know most people think it's cool?

  3. The way you are able to bring up both American Idol and Willy Wonka in the same post is beautiful.

    They only thing I don't quite get though is why "suffering, loss, and defeat" are what make life real? Does real life not have flashy beauty in it as well?