Showing posts with label music videos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music videos. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quick Notes on Representation and Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?


Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966, Dir. William Klein) is centered around an American fashion model in Paris named Polly Maggoo, of course. The film never quite settles on what is fantasy and what is reality until the end of the film. It is also hard to say what type of P.O.V. the film is taking. Third person? A documentary of a TV documentary crew? Klein builds Polly as a construct from the beginning and Polly sees herself as a construct of sorts. The TV crew and especially the producer follow her around just because she is not being forthcoming enough, all the while constantly editing her piece in a positive, negative and almost irreverent fashion depending on their feelings towards her. One crew member is bent on depicting her as a Cinderella story while at the same time showing the darker version of the fairy tale and connecting it to the fashion industry.

The fantasy storyline concerns Prince Igor, a European prince who pines for Polly just based on her photos and apparently some Hollywood-based notion of what American women are like, mostly based in Classical Hollywood musicals (Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers...although I have no idea where the brief shot of Polly chained to a wall wearing a leather bikini means or comes from in terms of Classical Hollywood musicals).

The TV producer, full of self-loathing (while directing some loathing towards Polly) performs some pop-psychology tests on her asking what type of plant she would be, etcetera, who she would rather have sex with (lists various historical figures), "reading" her face and walk. He seems no closer to understanding her, and she tells him so. He, and the rest of the documentary crew keep insisting that she does not know who she is - that is debatable because we rarely see Polly alone partially because of the crew that follows and stalks her.

The ending sets up Polly's fall, at least her "public" fall - the magazine editor sees her as a "Cinderella"-type, not a "rocket"-type (although Polly claims on her test that she would like to be a rocket) and hires a different model behind her back. Prince Igor arrives to Polly's apartment moments after she leaves, meets Polly's similar-looking neighbor and instantly falls in love with her. People on the street do not find Polly's pictures attractive. The TV producer stops hating himself, professes his love to Polly and turns into a prince, but that is not mentioned at the very end, where Polly is roaming the streets happily with the crowds who are awaiting the arrival/parade for Prince Igor. Titles at the end feature a sad song about Polly's end.

Again, this is her fall in the eyes of the public, while Polly is very happy with herself because she is not under scrutiny anymore. This film is bizarrely progressive in this matter.

PS - This film is available on Hulu+ under the Criterion Collection. And yes, the opening scene is referenced in the video for "No You Girls" by Franz Ferdinand.