Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Milos Forman, Loves of a Blonde, 1966

Milos Forman’s Loves of a Blonde is a film about youthful longing, aspiration, dreams and their inevitable impossibility. It is a film that assaults the viewer with a candid and unapologetic brand of realism. This realism represents social situations and social behaviors that ultimately lead only to awkwardness and disillusionment. It is at its core a story of disillusionment and the youthful optimism that resists it.
Characteristically of Czech New Wave filmmaking Loves of a Blonde is a film that is not concerned with telling as neatly constructed a story as possible. The film gives a feeling of looseness as oppose to the rigid feel of conventional filmmaking with its narrative aim and concern of constructing a careful, controlled well rounded plot. In Loves of a Blonde there are entire scenes that seem more like Lumiere Actualités than fabrications of the cinema. These sequences do not, and are not intended to, advance the narrative. Instead they help provide the mood of the film and make the scenes seem closer to real life while simultaneously calling attention to the style and process of film as film. Scenes seem to extend giving the sense of indefiniteness, as though the argument between Milda and his parents could go on forever or as though the three reservists may never make up their minds to approach the three girls. These are scenes that in conventional films are cut to their bare minimums in order to push the narrative ahead. However, one is inclined to ask the question, ahead to what? The feeling of indefiniteness of these scenes in Loves of a Blonde is a feeling of life, as life is not made up of simple linear narratives.
In terms of plot, Loves of a Blonde can seem, as a whole, disjointed or fragmentary for refusing to provide the neat and careful construction of story, or even resolution. This is appropriate in the sense that the main character, Andula, also seems disjointed. Andula does not know what she wants and her decisions often make her seem confused. At the beginning of the film she is seen lying in bed with a friend, describing, really gushing about, her boyfriend who has given her a ring. She makes him sound like a real wonderful guy. When he appears later in the film the truth of the situation is revealed, that he is a terrible person. At the end of the film, Andula is likewise describing Milda and the time that she spent at his parents’ house in Prague. Again Andula makes the experience out to seem as though it had been wonderful, which is far from the truth. At Milos’ parents’ house she was subjected to an excruciating interview and belittling by Milos’ mother. Later that night, when Milos finally arrives, his mother forces him to share the bed with her and his father so as to not allow him to be with Andula. In bed the three of them argue endlessly and inconspicuously. They are loud and rude and they carry on indefinitely. The argument is absurd and has no foreseeable resolution, and yet they continue as though bickering and arguing through the night is perfectly common among them. The argument is almost entirely about Andula and what a problem it is that she has shown up unannounced. The insensitivity and insistence of the argument and its inherent awkwardness evoke comedy and is humorous, but there is an abrupt cut from the comedy of the argument to Andula. Andula is sitting just outside the bedroom door, crying. The sudden cut to Andula’s tears has a powerful impact as a juxtaposition to the argument inside the room. The seeming endlessness of the argument is funny to the audience, but there is nothing funny about it at all to Andula. The straight cut to her sitting down on her knees, crying, functions as an abrupt change of mood, and is therefore quite powerful.
When Andula, at the end of the film as at the beginning, tells her friend, in bed, how wonderful a time she had at Milda’s, the audience knows that she is not being honest. The trip to Milda’s house was a disaster by all measures. However, it is not that Andula is outright lying to her friend. Rather, Andula is romanticizing, idealizing the experience, just as she had before in the case of the boyfriend who had given her the ring. Andula is seeking the companionship and love that is necessary in modernity, just for making life bearable. When situations and life seem to only betray Andula’s hopes and needs she fabricates her history in hopes that the next time will be better. Andula’s is the optimism of youth that confronts and resists the realities of life. All youth reassemble their memories in order to make their lives more the reality that they long for.

1 comment:

Dave said...

I love this film, and I enjoyed reading your reactions.