The Oscars take down their museum

Los Angeles has just inaugurated its temple dedicated to the 7th art. The stars and political correctness shine brightly there. Reporting.

Vestige of the past or promise of the future? It has been ten years, and even a hundred years, that the world capital of the entertainment industry intended to equip itself with a cinema museum. It is done. Its inauguration, September 30, caused a descent of stars, in their new temple located in “downtown” – if such a thing exists in Los Angeles -, from the rare Warren Beatty to his eccentric ex. Dear, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, moguls …

The building, an Art Deco building from 1939 which used to be a department store, has been “rebooted” by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the very one who designed Beaubourg, the Whitney in New York or the adjacent Lacma pavilion. Brightness, apparent structure, almost raw. The mischievous Piano inflated the order of what he calls a “soap bubble”, a huge auditorium with a capacity of 1000 seats, the David Geffen Theater, looking like a suspended Daft Punk helmet. It is beautiful, airy, almost light while the whole is heavy.

We are not going to erase the dark aspects, rather confront them

The set cost nearly $ 500 million. These are the heads of studios, Bob Iger in the lead, the former boss of Walt Disney, and a few stars who have contributed to the funding. From there to imagine a program decided according to the interests of the donors… “The two entities are separated, explains the director, Bill Kramer. Of course, we celebrate the movies, but without silliness. The critical point of view on our history will be essential. We are not going to erase the dark aspects, rather confront them. We’re talking about “Birth of a Nation,” which takes the Southern perspective during the Civil War, through the eyes of Spike Lee, ”he admits.

Director Spike Lee in the spotlight at the first temporary exhibition. © DR

#MeToo movement and politically correct oblige, the room dedicated to the “Wizard of Oz” offers a notice detailing the sexual harassment suffered by actress Judy Garland from producer Louis B. Mayer. Also on display are documents from 1939 where the Academy of Oscars established award categories based on ethnic criteria. The museum emanates from this Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences, whose almost 10,000 members vote every year for the attribution of the statuettes. Its content, validated by the curators, completes the revolution of benevolence that has been operating for several years within the institution. Diversity, inclusive will, celebration of women – Martin Scorsese’s editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, is in the spotlight -, decentring and openness to the distance – the retrospective dedicated to the Japanese Hayao Miyazaki is sublime.

We can evoke “Shakespeare in Love” without glorifying its producer.

All the same, how to proceed with the ogres? Because there are many, the powerful local males to have abused the frail debutante, from Harry Cohn, the first director of Columbia studios, to … Harvey Weinstein, whose massive silhouette we see in an extract devoted to his misdeeds and to the courage of its victims. “We will never erase the Miramax films. We can evoke “Shakespeare in Love” without glorifying its producer ”, promises Bill Kramer. Or concoct an exploration of the Academy’s mistakes and mistakes, because the film-dripping sentimentality won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1999 thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign by Master Weinstein. “Citizen Kane” had not won the supreme statuette either, preceded by “That it was green my valley”, by John Ford. It is nevertheless the masterpiece of Orson Welles which occupies an entire room, obviously obvious, but which pleases, especially if a magical element enhances the visitor’s interest. Steven Spielberg loaned several objects from his personal collection to the museum, including the legendary “Rosebud” sled, which explains everything about the character of Charles Foster Kane.

The Oscars Hall.

The Oscars Hall. © DR

Playful, let’s be playful. Make us forget our taxes or hunger in the world, such is also the role of the 7th art, and therefore of such a space. Bet won. The costumes from “2001, a space odyssey”, the Polaroid tests of Brad Pitt in “Thelma and Louise”, the bizarre “ET”, the making of the gooey “Alien”, the brilliant play where speeches are projected at the Oscars – pathetic Halle Berry, superb Marlee Matlin – everything contributes to making the tourist fetishist, sentimental and happy. America has that strength. We can dream of his future treatment of censorship of the Hays code, of New Hollywood… Twisting the myth to strengthen it.

Also read.A shower of stars on the green carpet of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures gala

Obviously, behind curtains, we play the one who won an Oscar and we recover the images of the victory when going out. Not the Oscar. Funny. Exposures change after a year or less. After the one devoted to the world of Spike Lee – it looks like in his office, there are his autographed posters, including that of “Breathless” signed by Belmondo – a woman, French, director, will replace Lee in this modern pantheon. We can’t reveal his name. A clue: two-tone hair, a talent not only from 5 to 7. A weapon to resist attacks from platforms, this museum? As long as we believe in the virtues of shared experience, cinema will live on. 

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The Oscars take down their museum

Hank Gilbert