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The Sun Starts to Set

It begins with a man floating face-down in a pool. Not just any pool, the pool belonging to Norma Desmond. The man has been shot, Ms. Desmond has gone delusional, and at this 40-year-old crux of my life, I feel sympathy and empathy for both. The dreamer destroyed by a world that passed him by; the dreamer destroyed by a world that passed her by. Both treated roughly, and both deserving it a little, because we all fall victim to our successes as much as to our failures. The sun sets equally on everyone. It cannot be stopped.

Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture; they think the actors make it up as they go along.
~ Joe Gillis

My fascination and love of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ runs deeply. It runs darkly too. Ms. Desmond did, after all, slash her wrists in an act of desperation, hopelessness, manipulation and love. It was an act of defiance too, and, in a sad way, of nobility. She was a survivor, but not a successful one, and merely surviving is not the stuff of grandeur. We want to pretend it is, and we bestow honors on the Miss Daisys of the world to make it be true, but comebacks are never as glorious as that first initial high. It’s the nature of the beast.

You don’t yell at a sleepwalker – he may fall and break his neck. That’s it: she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career.
~ Joe Gillis

Joe Gillis and Norma Desmond are brittle and bitter, not wholly likeable, and selfish enough to want and want and want, but they were made that way, and why should anyone be blamed for being a product of their surroundings, of a world that so easily discards those who dare to dream and want? It’s a harsh view of our nature, a cold and contemptuous take on greed and fame and love, and there is little redemption to be found in the way either of them end up.

There’s nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25.
~ Joe Gillis

 

Because ‘Sunset Boulevard’ played such an inspirational role in my very first tour, it’s only fitting that it rears its gorgeous and grotesque head again for my final tour. Here, an homage to the demise of Joe Gillis. There is peace in still water. Darkness too.

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