Norma Desmond: A Star or Black Hole

Essay by skhagan92High School, 10th gradeA-, November 2014

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

"Norma Desmond: A Star or a Black Hole"

Though she claims to be a radiant "star" throughout Billy Wilder's eccentric film

noir, Sunset Boulevard, legendary Norma Desmond is more easily compared to a

different celestial body: a black hole, but we'll just call it Hollywood. She, like

Hollywood, has the ability to draw in all kinds of people towards her "beaming"

presence, and then swallows them up with implosive vigor. Desmond's character (her

consumption of those around her, both strong and weak, naïve and cynical) is the driving

force of the movie's commentary about Hollywood's relentless (albeit hollow) attempt to

grasp onto immortality through success.

Sunset Boulevard follows Joe Gillis, a screenwriter, as he falls prey to the whims

of both the black hole of Hollywood and Norma Desmond's mesmerizing persona. First,

Joe (William Holden) falls for the cutthroat world of filmmaking and the flavor of the

week mentality that follows all screenwriters. Unfortunately, he's no longer the flavor of

the week and times are tough. Even with the option of a steady paycheck and comfortable

life in Dayton, Ohio, Joe won't leave… he can't leave. The idea of getting back on top is

too alluring. Enter, Norma Desmond….

Once Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) gets her well-manicured fingers into Joe

Gillis, the viewer is easily reminded of how enveloping and contorted Hollywood and its

otherworldly children can be. For just a dash of money to save his car and the opportunity

to wedge into Hollywood again, Joe gives in to personal reservations about a bizarre

situation and agrees to aid a fallen silent film star in her script reconstruction. However,

Gillis realizes that this job opportunity comes with consequences. In his older clothes, Joe

looks like a fish freshly sprung from the water and very...