A woman sits in a dark room, shrouded in a cloud of tuberose perfume and topped with a turban befitting royalty. Even in the dim light, she wears sunglasses – perhaps to add an air of glamour, perhaps to hide tearful eyes, perhaps to shield her from the prying gaze of others. Whittling the months and years and decades into splinters of time and decaying dreams, she went from having the world at her feet to being forgotten and isolated. What terrors lurked in her great, dim mansion? What nightmares tormented her sleep? Is it better to have never known such happiness and adoration at all, than to know it and lose it and spend a lifetime trying to win it back? It must have been a brittle existence, a fragile and lonely one ever on the verge of breaking apart, shattering into a thousand jagged shards.
WITH ONE LOOK I CAN BREAK YOUR HEART
WITH ONE LOOK I PLAY EVERY PART
I CAN MAKE YOUR SAD HEART SING
WITH ONE LOOK YOU’LL KNOW ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
WITH ONE SMILE I’M THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
OR THE LOVE THAT YOU’VE HUNGERED FOR
WHE I SPEAK IT’S WITH MY SOUL
I CAN PLAY ANY ROLE.
This is Norma Desmond. On this day she waits, for what she does not yet know. Joe Gillis is about to pull his car into her driveway and hide it away in her garage. For now, though, in this early morning of a sunny day which once again won’t allow any sunlight into her grand home, she sits quietly nurturing the heart that survived the only way it knew how. A belief in the grand illusions of her faded fame. A hope planted on the fantasy of her implacable glamour. A delusion that saw her through decades of a lonely existence. The things we believe in order to go on living… and the things we refuse to believe.
NO WORDS CAN TELL THE STORIES MY EYES TELL
WATCH ME WHEN I FROWN, YOU CAN’T WRITE THAT DOWN
YOU KNOW I’M RIGHT, IT’S THERE IN BLACK AND WHITE
WHEN I LOOK YOUR WAY, YOU’LL HEART WHAT I SAY.
She is a sad creature, but she doesn’t see that, not in the way that most people might see it. She’s not sad in a pitiable way, in the way that makes one feel sorry for her – she’s internally sad that she can no longer thrill like she used to thrill, that she can’t make her art the way she once did, that there is no longer a place for her in a changing world that left her old-fashioned craft behind. She’s also sad because she’s had her heart broken. No doubt she’s broken a few hearts in the process too, and sometimes that’s worse. Sometimes that takes a deeper toll, a toll whose devastation only becomes clear long after the fact, in the ruined years that follow. It’s a toll that doesn’t ever seem to find comeuppance, a hurt and ache that finds no resolution or relief. A guilt that bears down on everything that comes after it.
WITH ONE LOOK THEY’LL FORGIVE THE PAST
THEY’LL REJOICE I’VE RETURNED AT LAST
TO MY PEOPLE IN THE DARK, STILL OUT THERE IN THE DARK…
Yet she is not broken. She has not yet cracked. There is the distinct possibility that a return is possible. Not a comeback. Don’t ever call it a comeback. She hates that word. But a return, yes. A return to form, a return to glory. A return to being loved. Why should she be so punished for wanting that again?
WITH ONE LOOK I’LL IGNITE A BLAZE
I’LL RETURN TO MY GLORY DAYS
THEY’LL SAY, “NORMA’S BACK AT LAST!”
Somewhere downstairs, off the terrazzo where rumor has it Rudy Valentino once tangoed, her butler shuffles about. A car rolls into the driveway, and she peers out the slats of a window shutter. A man walks toward the door, out of the sunlight, into the shadows of the house on Sunset.
Norma Desmond rises. He is not who she thinks he is, but he may be altogether better.
And there’s that hope again, that innocent belief in herself, and the possibilities of the world, even when it’s done nothing but dash her against its cold rocks. She emerges from her boudoir, regal bearing intact, ready to demand the love of the world, or the love of a man, or simply the chance to do it all again.
THIS TIME I’M STAYING, I’M STAYING FOR GOOD
I’LL BE BACK WHERE I WAS BORN TO BE
WITH ONE LOOK I’LL BE ME!
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