Monday, August 01, 2005


I have finally forgotten enough of the movie Diva to watch it again. I remember the aria from La Wally—it was the first time I had heard it. I remember the black apartment with the white bathtub in the center of the room and the Vietnamese girl circling the room on roller-skates. I remember the white car driving through the countryside. I remember the motor scooter chase.

I had completely forgotten the drugs and prostitution plot, but I remembered the ecstasy precisely, the sense of completely giving oneself to the pleasure of great singing. They couldn’t get a real diva to play in their movie, but the singer in the film (Wilhelmenia Wiggins) is very good. She has the usual American singer flaw—she does not understand how to phrase an Italian aria, would be famous for something besides this movie if she did. It’s a great film, full of ambiguity.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Dr. B . . .

Just purchased a VHS of "Diva." Have been seeing it over and over through the years.

That wasn't a white apartment, but an enormous loft - the size of a warehouse, empty but for a kitchen area, the central bathtub, the tide machine, and a bed. The "white car" was a Type 11 Citroen 4-door, quite famous in France, though usually black.

You're right about Wiggins's voice. It's treakly. And the looping is bad - neither her breathing nor her phrasing conform to the needs of the aria.

Off and on I've tried to find out who, exactly, Wiggins is. Answer is that she's not really anyone. Got lucky with one movie, has made maybe two CDs (one a recital of Gershwin tunes, the other a studio set of Hammerstein's "Carmen Jones.")

For her, this one shot was like "The Ode to Billy Joe." A blazing star, then nothing.

I love the flick, though. (You oughta read Vincent Canby's tirade against it. God did he ever hate that film.)

Dr.B said...

I see Wiggins's real name is Cynthia Hawkins.

Dr.B said...

I have read Canby's review and find it puzzling. What is wrong with an art object that is all surface? What else is there besides surface? But then my favorite movie has always been "Repoman". There was a news item the other day about two repomen getting shot up, just like a scene from the movie.