Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Victor Victoria, or How Julie Andrews is a Diva!






Diva (n.) A celebrated female singer. Derived from the Italian/Latin adjective diva for "divine female person." The basic sense of the term is "goddess."

Diva: Julie Andrews as Victoria Grant in Victor Victoria (1982)

First let's do a simple checklist, a good diva needs:

1. A powerful entrance.
Nothing says "diva" like capturing the camera's attention from the moment you're on screen.
Lucky for Victoria she gets two "entrances." For the first one (and continuing a trend in introducing divas) we only at first hear her voice as we follow the camera along before finding her mid-audition (sadly, she doesn't get the job). Not a good start. It's a good setup though.

But later! Oh later does she get her diva entrance in full!
As 'Victoria' she makes a splash with her iconic shimmering frock to the tune of 'Le Jazz Hot' (one of my all-time favorite musical sequences in film) - I mean, she gets a spotlight, a closeup, a shimmering gown: what else does a diva need for an entrance?

2. A great wardrobe (including an amazing headdress!)
I mean, what better way to capture anyone's looks than by drawing attention to your body?
It seems being a diva and being costumed by an Academy Award nominated Costume Designer go hand in hand: Ms Andrews' Oscar-nominated frocks came courtesy of Ms Patricia Norris and they ran the gamut from flashy (Le Jazz Hot's silvery sensation) to mutely appropriate (the flamenco ensemble). The fact that they sway from overly feminine (Victoria) to faux-masculine (Victor) adds to the allure and caché of Ms Norris' designs. That we're located in the showbiz world allows for wildly accessorized ensembles that quickly draw attention to themselves (I mean, is she wearing a chandelier on her head, perchance?).

3. A loving entourage (read: a lovely audience)
What's a diva without an adoring fan-base?
Always able to escort and dance around 'Victoria' the dancers from her ensemble are like a little dancetourage (and look! aren't they pretty?). But of course Victoria also has adoring fans outside of the thea-tah (most notably 'Toddy' who keeps her secret to her success, and King Marchand who seems oddly attracted to that 'man in drag' - even Norma becomes a fan once she sees 'Victoria' perform!)

To create one iconic character (Mary Poppins) would be a thrill for any actress, to create two (Maria from The Sound of Music) would be a blessing... but for Julie Andrews, so 'late' in her career to knock this one out of the park, well, that just proves how great talent sometimes really is rewarded in Hollywood (Notice how all three performances were nominated for an Oscar, with a win coming for her film screen debut in that Disney flick).

Oh Julie, when you play me "le jazz hot" baby, you're holding my soul together too!

3 comments:

Matt said...

i always thought this one was a bit underrated.

Encore Entertainment said...

This was indeed underrated. What I remember about this role is that when it made its Broadway debut and only Judy was honoured at the Tony's she refused the nomination because she felt the entire cast and crew were outstanding...true diva.

Encore Entertainment said...

This was indeed underrated. What I remember about this role is that when it made its Broadway debut and only Judy was honoured at the Tony's she refused the nomination because she felt the entire cast and crew were outstanding...true diva.