Friday, November 21, 2014

The existential paean of Julie Andrews

Long-haired Julie
The key to her character is...a hairstyle?

She is rare — a woman who is more feminine with short, boyish hair. Both an enigma and a clue. With substantial tresses she appears ordinary, domestic and inconspicuous. It’s as if her rejection of an average coif adds an air independence, honesty and good health. She is strong in a focused, private Zen way. Small wonder that her two most successful roles (Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music) are really one — that of a kindly, virginal English governess.

The skin is not blemished by sin or wrinkled with profundities. Whether her breeding is innate or acquired cannot be answered.  Her multi-octave voice is pitch-perfect and lilting, no Billie Holiday-style slurring and sadness. Her only mystery is motivation: what does she need? Who, really, is she?
Julie gets ready to shred it

Julie Andrews, with her Rogers & Hammerstein and her Lerner & Loewe is anti-Vegas and anti-Woodstock. Her space is occupied by others like Petulia Clark and Anthony Newley (kind of), those with a sing-along music hall sensibility. How she ended up in two monster money-making films of the 1960s is indicative of the era’s sly playfulness and hybrid nature of its entertainments. (Remember, Janis Joplin sang with Tom Jones, and it worked.)

Come fly with
Long after rainbow psychedelia is bleached away by the idle tears of nostalgic boomers, we shall still see Julie swirling atop that Austrian mountain, her arms wide open to a celestial lover, or floating to earth on an umbrella, detached from us, from sex, from the war and disease, Saint Andrews, joyous and unsullied in a self-contained, uncontaminated existence in which you sing your way out of any darkness, even the darkness of death. Untouched and untouchable.

Julie, must you leave so soon?