Sunset Boulevard Essay

1932 Words8 Pages
Sunset Boulevard (Wilder 1950) explores the intermingling of public and private realms, puncturing the illusion of the former and unveiling the grim and often disturbing reality of the latter. By delving into the personal delusions of its characters and showing the devastation caused by disrupting those fantasies, the film provides not only a commentary on the industry of which it is a product but also a shared anxiety about the corrupting influence of external perception. Narrated by a dead man, centering on a recluse tortured by her own former stardom, and concerning a once-promising director who refuses to believe his greatest star could ever be forgotten, the work dissects a multitude of illusory folds to reveal an ultimately…show more content…
When Norma asserts her self-worth, she does so surrounded by images of herself. “I am big,” she proclaims, with a thousand Norma Desmonds staring back at the camera from photographs, posters, and artistic renditions of the once famous face. “It’s the pictures that got small.” This convolution of reality, a reversal that gives Desmond the illusion of both control and continued adoration by nonexistent fans, provides the foundation for all her more severe misperceptions. As long as it is the cinema itself that has lost its appeal and not the former silent film star, a change of fates or Desmond’s own gracious compromise have the potential to restore her former glory. As she ultimately confesses, Norma feels that she left the spotlight (not the other way around) and that it has been waiting for her ever since. A belief that her seclusion is voluntary allows Desmond to avoid the finality of her fall from grace. The relationship between Joe Gillis and Norma Desmond also holds close corporeal ties to the protagonist’s material wealth and visual relationship with Desmond’s mansion. Joe’s car, the symbol of masculinity and independence, embodies the man’s desperation and his initial motivations for accepting a job with Norma. As Joe admits, the loss of his car is commensurate to “having (his) legs cut off” and represents the final blow to his dreams of Hollywood success. At first Joe sees in his venture with Norma a purely professional
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