How does Sunset Boulevard represent the Hollywood Studio System?

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Sunset Boulevard directed by Billy Wilder in 1950 is based on how Norma Desmond, a huge Hollywood star, deals with her fall from fame. The film explores the fantasy world in which Norma is living in and the complex relationship between her and small time writer Joe Gillis, which leads to his death. Sunset Boulevard is seen as lifting the ‘face’ of the Hollywood Studio System to reveal the truth behind the organisation. During the time the film was released in the 1950s and 60s, audiences started to see the demise of Hollywood as cinema going began to decline and the fierce competition of television almost proved too much for the well established system. Throughout this essay I will discuss how Sunset Boulevard represents the Hollywood …show more content…
The film’s main focus largely represents the Hollywood star system to which Norma Desmond is a victim of. The film particularly highlights the fantasy world in which Norma lives in, the world where she is the ‘greatest star’ (Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard, 1950). Sunset Boulevard steps into Norma’s mixed up world where hundreds of photos of herself clutter her crumbling mansion and where she watches herself on screen on a weekly basis. The crumbling and deteriorating mansion could be seen as a metaphor for Norma’s fall from stardom, the collapse of her career.
The focus of Norma’s fame is a recurring theme throughout the film that is referenced in order to emphasise the extent to which fame has affected Norma and her life. When Norma decides to talk to Cecil DeMille about her script the young security guard questions her by saying ‘Norma, who?’ as the younger generation are unlikely to have heard of the actress. This further emphasises the harsh reality of fame and in particular, Hollywood, as new actors and actresses are constantly churned out to appeal to the audiences needs for the new Hollywood ‘star’.
Besides the main focus of the star system, other representations of the studio system are also apparent within the film, for example when Joe’s thoughts are expressed
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