Monday, January 16, 2012
I am in love with my recent self-bestowed Christmas gift, the Williem Klein box set. Above all I purchased it for the canonical fashion art film, 1966's Qui êtes vous, Polly Magoo?/ Who are you, Polly Maggoo? The camera movement, seemingly achieved with a lot of handheld motion, winds around characters at eye-level and captures a natural, cinema verite-style portrait of people on the street and groups of eccentric staged characters alike. The film also segments, in an abrupt 60s pop-art style, using jump-cuts and title shots, collages of illustration and photography, and staged stills in the 60s surrealist fashion, with documentary-style interviews, and elegantly choreographed and scripted film scenes. Moving rapidly between dream fantasies, fairy tale-like story lines, and realistic segments the loose plot moves in a non-linear, surreal fashion, making it impossible to know what is real and what is a dream-- and who is even dreaming?
"The Prince of Borodine" is a character that seems to be controlling the fantasy world, but Polly, the film's 20 something fashion it-girl, also seems to be guiding the narrative into her own territory. Who is a fiction of whose imagination? The story is largely a satire of the fashion world, but its told in such a chic style, it may be a critique, but its also a nod to the industry. Polly is an American model from New York who has crossed the pond to Gay Par-ee to follow her fashion career deep into the center of chic. She interacts with fashion insiders, journalists, dirty men on the street, and even a Prince, whose fantastical daydreams about Polly give him pleasure in his boring, isolated world of princely excess.
The end credits is among my favorite in all of film history, showing a seemingly endless drawing in a 60s Victorian-revival meets 60s Art-Nouveau revival style scroll by French surrealist illustrator Roland Topor over music by Michel Legrand.