Sunday, 26 July 2009

Faded glamour

War Time Femininity - taken from 1944 Yank Magazine

There seems to be a missing glamour to contemporary femininity. I surround myself through my passion for Hollywood musicals in a magical lost era - I am use to a feminine body which is happy, smiley, curvy and long legged. These films and these bodies hold traditional feminine traits of seeking love and acceptance, caring for her friends, battling against all the odds to find her parted lover. These films, these delights of cinema may have changed the production and position of the role of film within everyday society, they are built upon a femininity and glamour which seems to elude and be lost from our contemporary world. Nevertheless their femininity and their stories couldn't ring more true? Aren't we all still seeking to find our lover? Our partner? While battling masculine assumptions of the right place for women within society? Although we are now not all fighting to be on the stage as in 42nd Street, we are remaining in our battles between home and workplace.

These actress, the chorus girls and the faceless names of feminine bodies making up he background scenes, hold a femininity which is simplistic yet so overtly beautiful. Tight cast however in dumb, simple playful roles. Yet these roles, however marginal and narrow they may be, they failed to curtail the power of their womanhood in the likes of Betty Grable, Vivien Leigh and Ginger Rogers. The former becoming a noted beauty - the pin up girl for American GI's in WWII, her glamour radiating a friendliness, American beauty.

While women have marked their position within society, in addition to taking more powerful, central roles within major films, how come they - (or so it appears) have lost their glamour, their flare and their femininity? Is being beautiful, being overt in your feminine body, your feminine appearance, a pre-selection for being seen as dumb within films?

To some extent I see Keira Knightley as the contemporary exception. The radiating beauty, one natural and simple flows from her intense stare is one, I believe would allow her to fit most perfectly within the era of the black and white film. She still somewhat maintains this lost appearance of femininity and glamour yet with a noted intellect. Yet does this tight cast her into roles of passionate (or passionless) emotionalised women? Her role as Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire within The Duchess invokes a passion somewhat drawing back to the drive for desire and love matching those of Scarlet O'Hara.

But has the glamour of the musicals, of dramas, being truly lost in a world of manipulation and airbrushing? Has natural glamour and beauty being replaced by the flare of the movie maker and the digital power of the computer? Is being in touch with your femininity, of making it overt within film or photography too against the assumptions and calls by feminists? To be so feminine is that a compliance with masculine desire? To meet their visual needs and wants?

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