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Tge greatest women roles in contemporary British, American and Polish cinema.

Poprzednia praca: My room (3)
Następna praca: Drugi obieg prasy w Polsce w latach 1976-1989

The first film ever made was an untitled work of the Lumiere Brothers, Auguste and Louis, presented on December 28th, 1895. In early 1896 they started exploiting their invention called "the cinematograph". In a short period of time cinematograph became the most favourite way of spending free time for the most of the people all over the world. The Lumiere Brothers films consisted mainly of moving images from everyday life scenes. They believed that cinema was to be a medium without a future as they suspected that people would be bored with images that they could just as easily see by walking out into the street. However, their film sequence of a train pulling into the station reportedly had audiences screaming and ducking for cover as they believed that the train itself was about to plow into the theatre. And then the magic of the cinema has begun.
Nowadays movies influence both young and adult audience. They are the source of inspiration for many other creators and are also being inspired by them. Thanks to movies directors could finally show things and places that were unable to be seen. That was the main reason of which cinema became more popular than other forms of entertainment. This popularity in just a few years' time became almost unbelievably high and very profitable. Therefore many people, apart from age and education, wanted to get into this showbusiness. But, as nearly all branches of entertainment industry, it was dominated by men. Women of course appeared in films, but they always played supporting, less important roles. Things were like this for many years and probably would be still if it was not for a few women, without who cinema and today's actresses would not have any chances to exist on a film stage. Even though in my opinion contemporary cinema means the last decade of cinematography (starting with 1990), I have to mention few unforgettable roles, which created legends and standards followed until today. Roles that forever will be considered the greatest.
In 1939 Vivien Leigh got a part in a film that was meant to be simply a melodrama and became something extraordinary. The story of endless love between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler became a myth. Leigh's role set the pattern for many actresses and O'Hara still is a symbol of a loving woman, able and prepared to sacrifice a lot in the name of love. Vivien Leigh received an Academy Award for this role. Clark Gable did not for playing Rhett Butler. Although she was the twelfth actress winning an Oscar, her role was, in my opinion, the one, which started a revolution. Her act was considered to be better than Gable's and opened a new door leading to a completely new kind of cinema.
About ten actresses were tested for playing Scarlett and none of them was good enough. After a year of searching, the producer, David O. Salznick, gave the part to Vivien. Choosing European actress for playing an American woman caused many protests, which quieted down after the smashing success of the movie and Leigh's magnificent performance. No wonder that the 40s' were dominated by this picture.
Although in the first years of the second half of the XXth century we could watch many great performances given by many great actresses, not every one of them became a legend. Of course, we remember such names as Judy Garland, Lauren Becall, Deborah Kerr or even little Shirley Temple. But it was one woman's merit to revolutionize the whole cinema business. It is hard to choose only one performance given by this actress, as all of them were great. But as far as I am concerned both audience and movie critics loved Sugar Kane the most.
In "Some like it hot" (1959) Marilyn Monroe proved that her talent was much more than only an interesting and beautiful appearance. Although it turned out to be Marilyn's biggest hit, she didn't want to do "Some Like it Hot" at first. She thought the character was just another dumb blonde and, furthermore, she was trying to have a child with Arthur Miller at that moment. However, the couple needed the money, so Marilyn accepted the role. Her adventures with remembering lines on the set of this film is legendary - She had so much trouble saying one line ("Where's the bourbon?" to be exact) while looking in a dresser drawer that the director, Billy Wilder, had the line pasted inside the drawer. Then Mrs. Monroe opened the wrong drawer. So he had it pasted inside every drawer. She was also locked in a battle with Wilder over how her character should be portrayed, and in the end, she won. Her exasperation of Wilder led to the creation of one of comedies most memorable blondes and biggest hits.
As Roger Ebert has written: "Marilyn Monroe hasn't aged into an icon, some citizen of the past, but still seems to be inventing herself as we watch her." One thing we know for sure: today's cinema would not be the same, if there was not someone like Marilyn. She fought for her rights, created her own characters and set the good example to the others. Marilyn Monroe was a real star shining bright above both filmmakers and audience. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1962. Although her glamour and fame remained immortal, her death opened a new door for many actresses. But none of them became such a big legend as Marilyn did.

There is one more actress who I have to mention. In 1972 an incredible film was made. It became a classic and until today is considered one of the best movies ever made. "Cabaret" would not achieve such success if the leading role was played by any other actress, though. Liza Minnelli claims the musical as her own with her energetic portrayal of Sally Bowles, an American entertainer with dreams of a movie stardom, who will bed down with anyone that leads to a screen test. Minnelli's performance is full of genius. Her magnificent, very strong and powerful voice is a supplement for her great, natural, artistic talent. She became a role model for next generations, specially for Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and other actresses who were performing in contemporary musicals.
All three actresses - Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe and Liza Minnelli - represent different styles of acting. Their performances were extremely convincing, but each of them became a legend because of other reasons. Leigh is considered a role model for almost every young or middle-aged actress playing in romantic, touching films, Monroe is an example of femme fatale and set the pattern for actresses who wanted to present themselves as sexy, beautiful and intelligent women, while Minnelli's energetic performance is behaviour pattern for other vigorous characters played by contemporary actresses, specially in musicals.
In my opinion contemporary cinema would not exist without these three actresses and their magnificent roles. They became a legend and will remain one until the end of days. Performances given nowadays by women are often based on portrayals of Scarlett O'Hara, Sugar Kane or Sally Bowles. These three characters were three greatest roles in the history of cinematography.
Nowadays it is much harder to find any performances that can be compared with them. But that does not, of course, mean that it is a problem impossible to solve.
Nicole Kidman was born on the 20. June 1967. At the age of 14 she had her film debut in "Bush Christmas". She participated regularly at the Philip Street Theater in Sydney. Her love for ballet and the performing arts, were enough for Nicole to know that acting was her calling. She moved to Hollywood. She met there her future husband, Tom Cruise. She appeared in many movies and was quite a well-known actress in the US. But Nicole always remained in the shadow of her husband, until their divorce in 2001.
In the same year the premiere of Nicole's latest film took place. It was held in Cannes, during the international film festival. Both movie critics and viewers were enchanted by "Moulin Rouge" and specially by Kidman's performance. It was Nicole's triumph, as she received hundreds of complimentary reviews and even letters from critics.

Her character, Satine, called also "the Sparkling Diamond", is the most desirable courtesan at the infamous Moulin Rouge cabaret. She is used to using men to get what she wants. And what she wants is a life of glamour, and not to have to sell herself for it. By falling in love with Christian, a young writer, Satine breaks the cardinal rule of the courtesan and she is doomed to pay for her folly. Kidman shows how easily she can embody both tempting courtesan and loving, sensitive woman.

As she said in one of the interviews the biggest challenge were the dancing and singing scenes. Nicole was positive that she can not sing and has a horrible voice. But everyone else was of a totally different opinion. Dancing scenes called for a lot of training and patience. Kidman was very dedicated to her work. She did a lot of exercises and worked 15 hours per day just to satisfy the director, Baz Luhrmann, the viewers, movie critics and specially herself. While shooting the first scene that she appears in (spectacular performance at the Moulin Rouge, where Kidman sings "Diamonds are a girls best friends") Nicole fell of a swing hung four meters above the floor. She broke her rib. Actually, she broke her rib twice, because about two weeks after the first accident, when she was not fully cured, she squeezed her waist with a corset too tight. She also damaged her knee, while dancing, so she spent the last few days on the set walking on crutches. Nicole, as well, caught a cold and lost consciousness a few times because of exhaustion. But it was worth it.
The role of Satine was extremely important both for Kidman and for the cinematography. "Moulin Rouge" was considered the revival of a musical. It was often compared with "Cabaret", but, in my opinion, these two films are completely different and it is hard to draw a comparison. It was also Nicole's first role after the divorce and an opportunity to show that she is not only a wife of Tom Cruise, but also a great actress with an incredible artistic talent. She availed herself of this opportunity.
Nicole Kidman proved that she is an amazing performer, singer and dancer. I consider her role one of the most significant in contemporary cinematography.
Halle Berry will become a legend. She was the first black actress who won an Academy Award in the category 'Best Actress in a Leading Role'. I have to agree that her role as Leticia Musgrove in "Monster's Ball" was amazing, but it is not the role I would like to tell you about now. In my opinion the greatest Halle's role was the one she accepted in the early 1998. She was very famous then, but not because of her acting achievements. She was the first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant in 1986 and a first African American to represent the U.S. in the Miss World competition in London. Of course, she appeared in a few movies, but her roles were not really meaningful, for instance: in "The Last Boy Scout" her character was killed after about 15 minutes.
But in 1998 she accepted a role that was about to change her life. When she was offered to play Dorothy Dandridge, she did not hesitate long. And she has never regretted it.
Dorothy Dandridge was a beautiful actress and singer whose star shone too briefly. A fragile boned beauty with skin often described as "cafe au lait", was sadly a victim of her own circumstances. She rose to the top of her profession with her first starring role and became the first black woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (in 1954). But, just as fast as her success was achieved, so did it begin to fade. Dorothy had the talent to capture the world, but the colour of her skin held her back. Also her personal life was full of difficulties.
Halle treated this role with great passion. She knew that Dandridge is a tremendously important personage not only for Berry herself, but also for the whole black community. She put a lot heart into this role. It was one of her first parts in a film, so she did not have a lot of experience. However, she proved that not experience, but talent is what really counts. Berry's portrayal of Dorothy was unbelievable. She embodied her character. She became Dorothy.
Halle protests strongly against colour bar and any symptoms of racial discrimination. Dandridge was this kind of person as well. Both women grew up in Cleveland, both had many troubles concerning their love life, both became famous and respectable actresses. The only difference is that Halle's talent and devotion to the cinema was appreciated and rewarded. Moreover, she received her first award - Golden Globe in 1999 - for playing Dorothy.
Berry says that it had been extremely hard to play someone so significant for the black community. But as far as I am concerned she managed to satisfy nearly everyone. Thanks to Halle's magnificent performance viewers know who Dorothy Dandridge was and also they could see that a new star begun to shine above Hollywood. And it is only the beginning of Halle Berry's career.
Maja Ostaszewska was born in 1972. She comes from a family of artists, and grew up in Krakow, a city well-known for its cultural life.
Her exceptional talent shone during her graduation performance, a production of Anton Chekhov's "Platonov", directed by Krystian Lupa (1996). The play was put on in two different versions, one called "olive", and the other "cherry". Ostaszewska appeared in both, in radically different roles.
Ostaszewska has been lucky as far as directors and roles are concerned. She works with Krystian Lupa, Jerzy Jarocki, Jerzy Grzegorzewski and Grzegorz Jarzyna. She appeared in many polish theatres.
Ostaszewska has not appeared in many film roles to date, but when she has, they have been distinctive and radically different. We can see her in her debut role as Karolina in "Przystan" by Jan Hryniak (1997), as a naive, forthright girl from a provincial town, lost in the world. Maciej Maniewski, a "Kino" reporter, wrote that "she wins us over with her frankness and delicate play of emotions". On the other hand we watch her in "Prymas - trzy lata z tysiaca" as a nun who informed on Cardinal Wyszynski, shows us how weak is human being.
Ostaszewska's precision and mature approach to acting are impressive. "There comes a moment when I'm developing a character," she says, "that I somehow allow her to penetrate my own life. That's when I want to feel how that character moves, what she likes to eat, what kind of music she listens to. I have to be that character. I think a lot about her, and at home I write inner dialogues. I live her twenty-four hours a day. When I finally 'catch' her, I only return to her when I am on stage."
Maja Ostaszewska completely becomes her characters. She knows much more about them than can be shown on the stage or screen. It is extremely hard to choose the greatest role of this young actress, because all of them are great. In my opinion Ostaszewska is a future of polish cinematography. None of other polish actresses since many years could embody a character like she does.
It is not a secret that polish cinematography is getting more and more scanty, if it comes to women's roles. Those played by Ostaszewska give us hope that the condition of polish cinema will be improved. At least I strongly believe that.
Kirsten Dunst is a very young girl. She was born in 1982 and made her film debut at the age of six playing Campbell McCoy in "The Bonfire of the Vanities" with Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. But she showed her real talent five years later.
Despite her young age Dunst is an accomplished professional and is a living proof that age is not a measure of one's talent or success. Rightness of this statement is confirmed by a fact that all of her greatest roles were performed when she was just a girl. For instance she got the part of little Amy March in adaptation of a book written by Louisa May Alcott "The Little Women" when she was only ten years old.
At the age of eleven she played one of the leading parts in "The Interview with a Vampire". This role was her breakthrough performance. She starred in this motion picture among many other famous and known for their talent actors like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Christian Slater, but it was Kirsten who charmed both the viewers and the critics.

Her character is a little girl whose parents get killed. A vampire named Louis finds her in an old wooden cottage and takes care of her. She becomes a vampire as well. But immortality, instead of becoming the greatest gift ever provided to a human being, becomes the worst curse for little Claudia. Mentally she is a mature, middle-aged woman, but physically is trapped in the body of a child.
Kirsten's character is very complicated. Many of today's older and more experienced actresses wouldn't embody this character as good as Dunst did. The maturity with which she portrays Claudia is outstanding. Her performance was appreciated not only by viewers, but also by movie critics. She was awarded for this role with Young Star Award, Chicago Film Critic Association Award, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, MTV Movie Award for best breakthrough performance, Saturn Award and also Golden Globe nomination. Of course, what most people remember about that role was that she got to kiss Brad Pitt. "I was 11 and he was 31, so kissing him was weird," she says. "Everyone made such a big deal out of it because I said it was gross. If I had said I liked kissing him, everyone would have thought I was some little psycho girl!".
The role of Claudia was the first, extremely big step to Kirsten's future career. Kirsten portrays her characters with maturity and mysteriousness. Until today she is considered one of the best Hollywood young stars. And in my opinion will remain one for a long, long time.
Today, at the beginning of the XXIst century, over one hundred years after the first movie was made, the meaning of the cinema has changed dramatically. Lumiere Brothers' invention, which they thought to be a complete failure, became something more than just another way of entertaining the public. For many people it became their way of living, especially for people connected with cinema business.
With our entertainment-driven culture, it is easier than ever to wrap ourselves in the lives of those being portrayed on screen in films and to escape into an idealistic world that influences us in more ways than we realise. That's why all of us are looking for their life inspiration in films. And that's also why we require more and more effort from actors and actresses to find ourselves in roles they create.
Therefore the greatest role is the one we consider the most wonderful, the one which became our inspiration and which we were charmed with.
The performances given by very different actresses that I have written about show the variety of creating film characters. All of them were perfectly portrayed and will become legends in their own categories. And every one is, as far as I am concerned, the greatest.
Table of Contents:
I. Introduction2
II. Let bygones not be bygones4
III. 'Sparkling Diamond' (Nicole Kidman)8
IV. Sweet 'Blackberry' (Halle Berry)11
V. Poland's Hope (Maja Ostaszewska)14
VI. Still waters run deep (Kirsten Dunst)16
VII. Conclusion18
Ř "Historia kina - lata wybrane" praca zespołowa, Warszawa 1998
Ř "Gwiazdy Hollywood" R. Base, Katowice 1998
Ř "Perłowa Ruletka" Z. Kałużyński, T. Raczek, Warszawa 2000
Ř "Kino i coś więcej. Szkice o ponowoczesnych filmach amerykańskich i metafizycznych tęsknotach widzów" J. Szyłak, Warszawa 2001
Ř my own knowledge J

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⇒Dodano: 2008-10-25 10:11:02
⇒Czytano: 410987
Autor: Mafej

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