Elizabeth Taylor, beautiful actress and movie star, died yesterday at the age of 79.
To say the truth, all I knew of her before my art and retro movie fanatic teacher was that she was in the advertisement for the perfume White Diamonds. And then we watched a clip from Cat on a Tin Roof.
I'll admit, I was entranced. She was truly a gorgeous movie star, as well as an AIDS activist in her later and life and good friends with Michael Jackson. But her acting was what won me over.
When I got home, the first thing I did was to watch the full movie. Her expressions, that careful, hesitant behavior in the first scene with Paul Newman-all were incredibly realistic and tense. Even her Southern accent was spot on in terms of local color: it added to the setting of the movie, but not too unrecognizable. Actually, the acting throughout the whole movie is pretty spectacular. The tense scenes, emotional breakdowns, and fits of yelling were all extremely real and emotional.
In terms of story, I think the way the director pieced together the broken bits of their family was interesting. You get Brick (Paul Newman), alcoholic, melancholy and apparently violent and not in love with his wife. Maggie the Cat (played by Elizabeth Taylor), the suffering wife of Brick who is strong and constantly endures her hardships. Big Daddy, the strong, powerful tycoon who favors his younger son Brick but has a strong temper. Big Mama, Big Daddy's wife, who almost parallels Maggie: she too loves a husband who has fallen out of love or has forgotten how to love again. The characters and their individual conflicts are revealed piece by piece throughout the movie, soon tying together to tell an intricate story of a family's complicated relations. In the end, though, (SPOILERS! Non-explicit) what got me was the realistic portrayal of the news of death in a household. To see the transience of life, and the love that makes life worthwhile, touched my philosophical side (okay, it made me emotional too). The characters realize that death has to come, just the way that Elizabeth Taylor once said in an interview that she doesn't fear death. May her legacy live on.
Interview here: http://blog.movies.yahoo.com/blog/977-elizabeth-taylor-1932-2011
Images from yahoo.com, www.pennsylvaniatrustsandestates.com