Wednesday, March 23, 2011

nothing matters, except life and the love you make


Words cannot express how truly devastated I am by the news that Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. I know that some people may consider that statement to be insensitive and callous in light of recent events in Japan and the Middle East, but I do not mean to be uncaring or out-of-touch with world events when I say that her death has shaken me.
Elizabeth Taylor is a great hero of mine. I've written about her on DRG in the past, but never enough to accurately express how large a space in my heart she takes. She was the first actress I fell in love with on the screen. I was six years old and had recently began my decade-long love affair with horse-back riding. As a gift, I received a VHS copy of National Velvet, which starred a young Elizabeth as a girl quite like me  - stuck in the middle of a loving family, but with an all-consuming passion for horses and the sport of riding. 
From then, I grew up according to Elizabeth's movies - watching Little Women, Father of the Bride, and A Place in the Sun, before graduating to her more mature films like Butterfield 8 and Suddenly, Last Summer. Her performances were always sophisticated and nuanced - her portrayal of Maggie The Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (one of my all-time favorite films) is a great example of that. Watching the film without prior knowledge of who Elizabeth was, you'd find it difficult to believe that the woman playing the Southern vixen Maggie was indeed born in London. She does the Southern social climber role so well that it seems like she's just herself and the camera is rolling without direction.
Elizabeth always made her work look easy, which was a great talent of hers but also cost her some critical appreciation. She made acting look so effortless that it was easy to lose focus from her performance and instead turn attention to her mesmerizing beauty. While she was always a famous movie star, she wasn't always a celebrated actress. After she won the Oscar for Butterfield 8 - a film where Elizabeth was plagued by severe physical ailments - Shirley MacLaine (who was nominated in the same category for The Apartment) famously exclaimed, "I lost the Oscar to a tracheotomy." It took tough roles like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Taming of the Shrew for audiences and critics alike to see how talented Elizabeth really was.
While Elizabeth was known during her lifetime for her love of jewels, her many marriages, her violet eyes, and her scandalous public persona, I hope that she will be remembered at the supremely talented actress and wonderfully generous woman that she was.

Title: from "Crests of Waves" (Coldplay)

5 comments:

JessM said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It upset me too:(
I posted a picture of her on my facebook and wrote Rest in Peace and how I was sad that ll the glamourous old school were dying out.
No one else seemed to be as bummed as me and reading this made me feel a lot better.
Some people on my fb were even making fun of the whole thing and her.
I didn't grow up with her or anything like you did, I just developed an interest in old hollywood around the time I turned sixteen and started watching all the bios and reading all about old movie stars.
Even as a child, Liz was exceptionally beautiful.
I'd like to think she's somewhere happy and young again, hanging out with James Dean, Marilyn, and more recently the divine Jane Russell:)

Alexis said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

:( that's so upsetting! why would people ever make fun of someone's death? a lot of people on my fb didn't know who she was, which astonished me. I don't understand how someone can live in a world without knowing who Elizabeth Taylor is!
It was really nice to read your comment, because I too felt like no one else was as bummed about her passing as I was. And it's so scarily true that the legends of old hollywood are passing away. It's marking the end of an era.
i like your idea of where she is now - she's smiling down on all of us, and she's healthy and happy again, and reunited with Rock Hudson, Monty Clift, Richard Burton, Grace Kelly, and her dear friend Michael Jackson.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I felt devasted yesterday too, I didn't expected it. She was truly beautiful inside and outside.

I love your blog, I love all related to the past decades :)

Alexis said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you, Anonymous.
It indeed was an unexpected loss. Though Elizabeth has been plagued with health troubles all of her life, she's always pulled through. She's the strongest woman I never knew. I think there was a part of me who believed that would never die.
She was one of the few people I had honest-to-goodness wanted to meet in my life. But hopefully we'll get another chance in the next lifetime.

Raquel said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very elegantly written post Alexis. What an amazing talent and beauty the world has lost.