The sun should never set on this noir-ish Hollywood masterpiece

Updated 23 May 2018

The sun should never set on this noir-ish Hollywood masterpiece

  • “Sunset Boulevard” still remains Billy Wilder's crowning achievement

PARIS: “Sunset Boulevard” is, of course, a movie named after a street. Yet so unforgettable, iconic and perceptive is this film — so devastating and endearingly prescient its portrait of Hollywood and the people that live there — that the make-believe and reality are imperceptibly, mythically intertwined.

It’s a noir-ish set-up. We meet our narrator — a hack scriptwriter played by William Holden —floating face down in the pool of a grotesque Hollywood mansion. We learn that six months earlier, he stumbled upon the home of forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond — played by Gloria Swanson, herself a silent movie star — and was soon seduced into the life of a tragically kept man, a soul-selling script doctor mercenarily feeding his benefactor’s illusions of a dramatic comeback.   

The meta is ubiquitous. Silent comic pioneer Buster Keaton shows up as one of the “waxworks” at Desmond’s has-beens’ card games. Erich von Stroheim, the auteur of silent masterpiece “Greed,” plays Desmond’s unnervingly devoted butler/driver (and the sole source of her continued inbox of fan mail). Heart-creakingly, von Stroheim once directed Swanson in “Queen Kelly” (1929) before being outcast from the chair — footage from which his character rolls in Desmond’s private cinema.

By 1950, director Billy Wilder had already authored a definite film noir in “Double Indemnity” (1944) and would soon be remembered for later crafting some of the most enduring comedies in Hollywood history — “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and “The Apartment” (1960). But for its gritty mix of style and substance, self-referential poise and psychological insight, “Sunset Boulevard” remains Wilder’s crowning achievement.


Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s ‘Free Solo’ sweeps Creative Emmys

‘Free Solo’ follows Alex Honnold’s attempt to become the first person to climb El Capitan. (Supplied)
Updated 15 September 2019

Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s ‘Free Solo’ sweeps Creative Emmys

  • “Free Solo’” has won seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards
  • The documentary picked up every award for which it was nominated at Saturday’s ceremony in Los Angeles

DUBAI: Co-produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the critically-acclaimed documentary “Free Solo’” has won seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards, adding to a slate of honors that already includes a BAFTA and an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The documentary picked up every award for which it was nominated at Saturday’s ceremony in Los Angeles, including outstanding directing for a documentary/nonfiction program, outstanding cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, picture editing, music composition and best achievement in interactive media.

Presented by National Geographic, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and co-produced by Image Nation, “Free Solo” follows Alex Honnold’s attempt to become the first person to climb El Capitan – a 3,000 foot high vertical rock in Yosemite National Park – with no ropes or safety gear.

The documentary was co-produced by Parkes+MacDonald, Image Nation, Little Monster Films and National Geographic.

"I think it always comes back to Alex, the diligence and discipline and teaching himself over the years," Vasarhelyi told the Hollywood Reporter backstage at Sunday’s award ceremony. "I think in terms of the Creative Arts Emmys, Alex brought so much craft to what he did, that all of us, every member of our team got a nomination. So it’s incredible to see the Academy appreciates the hard work that went into it."

In February, “Free Solo” won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards. After the ceremony Chin told reporters, “Hanging off the wall, I couldn’t see Alex Honnold below, and I just had to trust that he was just being perfect. We also had to carry the weight of the entire production being perfect, because if we made any mistakes, it could have been catastrophic.”

UAE-based fans were treated to a special screening of the film in March and chief content office of Image Nation Ben Ross shared his thoughts at the event.

“From the incredible reviews to the Academy Award and BAFTA wins, we are so proud that Image Nation Abu Dhabi and the UAE can say it helped to support this incredible film…It has been an honor to work with the National Geographic.”