Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity…
BOOM! (1968) – Joseph Losey
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton & Noël Coward
IMDb Plot Summary: Film version of playwright Tennessee Williams’ “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore” involves very wealthy Flora ‘Sissy’ Goforth, supposedly dying, and living in a large mansion on a secluded island with her servants and nurses; into her life comes a mysterious man, Angelo Del Morte and “the Witch of Capri.” The mysterious man may or may not be “The Angel of Death”.
My Plot Summary: A wealthy, fabulous woman. A young poet (an ‘Angel of Death’). A good friend, the lively, the gossip, the ‘Witch of Capri’. The devoted nurse-secretary. The doctor and the guards. All together and all alone on an isolated island, their privacy protected by wild nature and killer dogs. The woman knows the end is near; her physical and mental pain is becoming a constant burden. She spends her last days dictating her memoirs, getting regular painkiller shots and humiliating every unlucky soul that happens her way. She is scared, she is angry, she is formidable; determined to go on her terms. A new lover may just do the trick…
Boom! is the sound of “the shock of each moment of still being alive”… said the young ‘Angel of Death’ to the ageing -dying- woman… There are many reasons to watch this film, the divine voice of Richard Burton and the powerful presence of Elisabeth Taylor, just two of them!…
… but you can also:
♥ follow Tennesse Williams in his allegorical journey to the unknown, dealing on the way with issues like alcoholism, fear of death, isolation, sexual frustration;
♥ admire the dreamy, purpose-built set with its clean, minimalistic lines and an interior dotted with objects-symbols of the passage to the after life. Very fittingly provoking outcry as it was built right on the point where the rare endemic plant Centaurea horrida made it’s natural habitat on Isola Piana, off Capo Caccia in Sardinia. The area is now protected;
♥ listen to John Barry’s capturing soundtrack to put you in the mood;
♥ enjoy the kabuki references and costume influences;
♥ adore Ms Taylor’s exquisite garderobe by Tiziani of Rome (with a young Karl Lagerfeld in the atelier), jewellery (most -if not all- her own) supplied by Bulgari and gorgeous hair by the hand of Alexandre de Paris;
♥ But most of all… bow to THE most Taylor-made, Taylor-worn, Tayor-fitted headress:
Gloriously *Monumental* Spectacular Vanity!
If you haven’t come across it already, you can read a great review with lots of details in Kimberly Lindbergs‘ Cinebeats.
Poster art courtesy of WWW.