Saturday, December 13, 2014

IRONY: VISUAL vs. AURAL...A Fairy Tale

I watched a festival film the other day, which can't yet be posted on-line, in which what we saw and what we heard were opposites in tone. The film is called FAIRY TALE. What we see is a father tucking his little girl into bed and we hear (in Voice Over) the little girl asking her father to tell her a story. He reluctantly agrees and tells the story of a little princess that lives with her mother and father and teddy bear in a castle. They are King and Queen of the whole world and their lives are full of joy.  A soft melodic piano plays in the background.  But what we see, in one long take, is a distraught father tucking in his little girl to bed and giving her a teddy bear, then walking into the next bedroom to find his wife drinking. In frustration he pulls out a suitcase and starts packing. The wife argues with him, and he argues back. They verbally fight and it's clear that they hate each other.  As the VO concludes, "the reason they were so happy is because the King and Queen loved each other very much..." ... the father gets into his car and drives off into the night. FADE OUT.

Another marvelous example of visual/aural irony is a movie we watched on TCM last night (Long Live TCM). The movie is LILI (1953) starring Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer, Jean-Pierre Aumont, with Zsa Zsa Gabor in a minor role. It's a Charles Walter directed and choreographed picture, where the actors wear their emotional motivations on their sleeves. Great piece of visual storytelling and wonderful ironic arcs. The great visual and aural irony is seen/heard in the Paul Berthalet character (played by Mel Ferrer), a ballet dancer who has broken a leg, hates the world, and has taken up puppeteering in a carnival. His inner emotions are portrayed by four of his puppets which represent his emotional conflict, and also which become the masks that he must learn to cast off, and which Lili must learn to see through. She's in love with Paul's ESSENCE but he hides behind these four artificial characters' IDENTITY. Thus we see one thing, his inner hate turmoil, but all we hear (from the puppets) is compassion and love. 

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