As I watched A Place In The Sun the other night I sat there thinking this movie might be a perfect metaphor for Elizabeth Taylor.
The scene: Montgomery Clift (my mother's generation swooned over this unbelievably handsome man) is the poor relative visiting his rich and distant for the first time. Monty's quiet, sensitive, sincere and therefore uncomfortable in their company and they do nothing to ease his pain.
Then suddenly the loveliest girl in the world enters their formal domain, a blissfully effervescent spirit in white, her dress so perfectly in tune with the essence of Elizabeth, it will inspire millions of young girls to go out and buy the closest version possible the very next day.
She's so utterly at ease and divine; she puts Monty in a dream. And yet the girl's so earthy and comfortable she's capable of releasing every single strand of tension existing within the scene....in other, intimate scenes with Clift she'll say things like "tell mama" "do I make you nervous" and "you look so unusual" and we'll listen to every phrase and not laugh, we'll just wish she keeps on saying them, to him, in close-up, again and again and again.
His eyes, hers...
Monty and Liz were very close friends; spectacular images of one another's beauty and humility in a superficial world. She was straight, he was gay, but they were soul mates to be certain. She was a survivor and would help his kind, he was not a survivor but would inspire her to do exactly that, inspiring her craft as well. Monty was troubled, brilliant, too intense for the rest, so tender a man...but of course Elizabeth would try and save him in the movie, and of course she would actually save him in real life.
Of course she would go on and work on behalf of her beloved, of course she would have violet eyes, "become singular and indelible on film and in our hearts", as Mike Nichols said....of course she was far more famous than anyone can imagine...her publicist did not have to call to remind the paparazzi she was in Rome, the world simply showed up because she was in Rome...of course, of course. She was Elizabeth Taylor.
I've been thinking about her in a deeply personal way, the only person other than Gore Vidal that I think about even though I don't know them personally. I really thought about her allot this past month because it felt as if she might finally die. And that meant something. It meant a great deal to me.
The loveliest woman in the world just left the room and I'm simply a puddle of tears...