Les Divas

November 28, 2009

Over the last two nights I started watching two movies from my long list of favourite French films. La Nuit Américaine (aka Day For Night) and Diva. Unfortunately, I fell asleep about a quarter of the way through each of them. Don’t for one moment think my premature slide into the land of my dreams had anything to do with either of these classics. I hit “play” too late in the day and had a feeling I wasn’t going to make it through to the end. No worries. I’ve seen both at least four times each and managed to catch a few choice scenes before sliding.

Check out this clip from the 1981 film, Diva, with Cynthia Hawkins, played by Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, working her charms on a sold out audience at a performance the Catalani’s opera, La Wally. In this scene, it is mainly Jules (Frédéric Andréi), who is secretly taping her performance, that she has under her spell. Check her out near the end of the clip (at around 4:20) when she lifts those note up and out into the atmosphere. Her mouth is perfectly formed – open and relaxed (an unobstructed pathway to heaven) and a chill runs up my spine every time I watch it. Gorgeous.

Here’s another diva clip of sorts from Francois Truffaut’s 1973 film, La Nuit Americane. Day For Night is a film within a film and the director is played by the master, Truffaut, himself. In this scene, Severine, one of the leading actresses, played by Valentina Cortese, cannot remember her lines.

There are so many great moments in both of these films, that even though they are over 25 years old and somewhat dated, for me this is part of their charm. If you haven’t seen them yet I highly recommend both.


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