Movie Review: "Funny Girl" by William Wyler
I have always liked music, and when music is combined with a great story I cannot help but loving it. This is the reason why I enjoy musicals so much. I am aware that most people consider the musicals made during the Golden Age of Hollywood to be the best of all times, but while I believe them to be excellent, I feel more inclined to the ones released during the sixties. The one I am going to speak about today came out in 1964, and even though I discovered it many years later, I call it my favorite. I am speaking about “Funny Girl”.
William Wyler, well known for being the man with most Academy Awards nominations in the category Best Director, brings us a movie based in the life of the actress Fanny Brice. This musical had been a great success on Broadway some years before the movie was released, an also counted with Barbra Streisand as its protagonist. That is why producer Ray Stark considered her the only possible choice for the role, even though Streisand had never performed in a film until that moment.
The story shows Fanny beginnings when she was still an aspiring actress and singer. Despite her lack of classical beauty and her usual clumsiness, she knows that she has the talent to achieve her dreams.
After a bit of a struggle, Fanny gets a part in a vaudeville show, and the success of it awaken the interest of Florence Ziegfield, the famous showman. Ziegfield offers Fanny a part in his spectacle, and she soon becomes one of the most famous Ziegfield's Follies. Her artistic perspective not always match that of his boss, a fact that gets her in trouble sometimes, but in spite of everything, Fanny’s career starts to grow.
In the meantime, Fanny develops a love relationship with Nicky Arnstein, which will progress through the years and eventually lead to marriage. Very soon it is clear that Fanny’s unconditional love towards her husband is not enough to keep the relationship in a healthy state: Arnstein’s issues with play, his inability to financially sustain his wife and child, and his resilience to let Fanny adopt the role of money maker of the couple, slowly begin to complicate the marital situation, and so, our protagonist's life.
Why should you be watching it?
It is impossible for me to understand the people who think that old movies are boring. Old movies set the bases to modern cinema, making it what it is today! “Funny girl” is one of the big musicals of all times, and even though the genre is not the most demanded nowadays, it does not make it any less charming and entertaining to watch.
This movie was widely praised for its production at that time, earning many awards and nominations, but in my opinion, the best thing about it is the main character: Fanny is not the typical girl, she has her own style and a very lively personality. But above all, she is confident, and she is never afraid of being herself. She teaches you to be “a beigel in a plate full of onion rolls” and live to tell the story, which I believe to be a wonderful message for the audience.
Do not think that Fanny’s life is easy! She makes mistakes, she fails, she struggles not only in her career but in her personal life as well. In spite of that, she is always willing to start again, helped by her courage and especially by her big sense of humor. How could it be different with Barbra Streisand playing the leading role? We have to remember that she won a well-deserved Academy Award for the portrayal of this character. Songs as wonderful as “I’m the greatest star” or “Don’t rain on my parade” would have never sounded so great without her beautiful voice.
In a world that is constantly making you feel that you have to be more like everybody else, it is refreshing and inspiring to come across a character who is so strong and capable of standing out for being exactly who she is, someone willing to fight for what she wants and to win her audience’s love despite of not fitting into the “perfect girl” standards. I believe that all of us girls can learn a thing or two from her.
It is because of all these reasons that “Funny Girl” has a special place in my heart. I highly recommend it.
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