It (1927)


I have put this film on my list of required viewing for cineliteracy.

The reason is obvious: here we have the creation of a persona that changed the world of film and indeed the world.

I believe that the relationship between film reflecting society and inventing it is complex, but in some cases the invention is clear. Here is such a case.

You can read elsewhere about the change of independence in women, the unabashed sexuality, the sheer appeal of soft aggression. This woman changed the world.

What interests me is that all this was done with no nudity, no explicit sex, not even much reference to her body at all. It is all a matter of attitude as reflected in the face, dimly shadowed in some body language. She was the first massively popular redhead film star. Though the films were black and white, everyone in the country saw innumerable magazine images of her bright red hair.

The role of sexual icon has since been trammelled in many ways and blurred into normalcy, but the role of the redhead seems to have retained its crispness. When Cate Blanchett dyes her hair red for “Elizabeth,” for instance and toys with men, or when Charlotte Rampling experiences lust in Venice, even when Julianne Moore has an affair to remember, it is always in part a reference to this archetype. Glyn’s obscenely simplistic notion gives the illusion of definition, and that’s part of the invention here.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.


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