The purple rose of Cairo

Film analysis “The purple rose of Cairo”

The film “The purple rose of Cairo”- is a masterpiece of one of the most prominent, talented director and producer Woody Allen. Woody Allen is known as an unordinary person, with interesting and unordinary films, that always caused a lot of discussions, reviews and didn't leave the audience indifferent.

His film “The purple rose of Cairo” appeared on the screens in the year 1985, and had great success both among audience and critics.

So, it was made in a small settlement Permont, the suburb of New York City .According to Woody Allen's biographer Eric Lax, the film is clearly autobiographical from it's beginning.Allen's childhood passed in Brooklyn and nearby his home was a cinema "Kent", that was called by Allen a "very great place of my childhood", that's why one of the scenes of the film was made there.

Looking back on the work on the movie Woody Allen said: “Purple Rose was a film that I just locked myself in a room [to write].... I wrote it and halfway through it didn't go anywhere and I put it aside. I didn't know what to do. I toyed around with other ideas. Only when the idea hit me, a long time later, that the real actor comes to town and she has to choose between the [screen] actor and the real actor and she chooses the real actor and he dumps her, that was the time it became a real movie. Before that it wasn't. But the whole thing was manufactured”. (

Film creation

So the film is about the 1930's, the period of the great depression in the USA.It is great how the director could show the atmosphere and mood of that times.

The main hero is Cecilia, a Waitress in a cheap New York diner, who suffers from a lack of money and her unhappy marriage with the unloved husband Monk. Her inner world is melodramatically grim, that's why the scenes of the film look colorless, brightless and unilluminated.

While trying to escape from the cruel reality, Cecilia gave herself fully to her passion - cinema.And the world of cinema is on the other hand a place of dazzling light, in contrast to the outside world. Woody Allen managed to achieve such result with the help of color and lighting.

Cecilia's favorite movie was "The Purple Rose of Cairo", that she was watching every day, it was like a fairy world for her. One day, there was a miracle: her idol Tom Baxter, a "Mr. Perfection", went from black and white screen in the auditorium to the great joy of Cecilia, and recognized his love for her.The fictional hero is faced with the real world: real money, prostitutes on the street and, finally, with the husband of Cecilia.

An important element in creating the atmosphere of the film was the visual range, made by operator Gordon Willis.Although the film tells the story of the 1930's, it is not a stylized antique.The creators of the film had the opportunity to get carried away by special effects, which for that time were worthy, but they had chosen a different approach.The paradoxical impression creates contrasting the real and fictional world.In this color real world, in which the heroine is living - is empty, lonely and gloomy.In contrast, the black-and-white world "movie within a movie" - is a holiday and repose of the soul of Cecilia.

So, the most interesting scenes of the film are made in theatre, with a so called “film-within-the-film” principle. It is great how director managed to create captivating shots of Cecilia, that made the audience be involved in the film and feel themselves what was happening. It is important to point out a special-effect shots, that show “Tom and Cecilia stepping through the film screen into each other's world”. These scenes are very impressive and fascinating.

Finally, Tom returns to the black-white frame, and Cecilia to her sad reality.In the end the heroine comes to favorite movie theater to the end of the film-showing, that repeats the very beginning of the film.

Also the director uses a lot of close-up shots showing Cecilia, to make audience engaged into her world and fantasies. That concerns also the last scene in the theatre, where Cecilia is sitting and is cheered up by cinematic allusion.

The main cast of the film: Mia Farrow (Cecilia), Jeff Daniels(Tom Baxter/Gil Sheperd), Danny Aiello (Monk), Edward Herrmann (Henry), John Wood (Jason), Deborah Rush (Rita), Zoe Caldwell (The Countess), Van Johnson (Larry Wilde), Karen Akers (Kitty Haynes), Milo O'Shea (Father Donnelly), Dianne Wiest (Emma).

In addition to actors that always worked with Allen, as Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton, the director brought an ensemble of known actors.Critics have pointed out a decent game of those who played the “film within the film”, well-known performers 1950-1960 years, John Wood, Zoe Caldwell, Ed Herman. Only good actors playing can show the real idea of the film, that is to show a touching and heartwarming story.

The film "The Purple Rose of Cairo" Allen attributed to his favorite movies, and spoke of it as a case of "when everything was close to how I planned. (

Most of the critics was favorably received by the picture and took it down to one of the best created by the wizard Woody Allen. The film had a lot of of awards: theBAFTA Award for “ Best Film”and theCésar Award for “Best Foreign Film”, and also a lot of nominations, including anOscar, aBAFTA Awardand aWriters Guild of America Award. It was recognized as one of the "ALL-TIME 100 best films" by“Timemagazine”. (

Works cited:

1. Woody Allen interview. Web. Retrieved 2010-04-25

2. “The Purple Rose of Cairo”. Retrieved 2010-04-25

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