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WAITING FOR THE MOON

USA, 1987 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Jill Godmilow

Of the legendary relationship between Gertrude Stein and Alice Boyd Toklas, Thornton Wilder, wrote that "Alice was merely the dragon protecting the treasure." Waiting for the Moon develops from the entwined myths of these two women, a gentle but dynamic portrait of their genius. Portrait is the more accurate description, because Waiting for the Moon is not based on a historical narrative, but a tantalising amalgam of characters and incidents, which yields a rendering of the spirit of the times.

As 'Time' magazine wrote in Alice's obituary, 'Their Left Bank apartment was the living room of the lost generation. Through it passed every star in the artistic fermament between the two World Wars...Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, Picasso and Matisse, T.S. Elliot and Sherwood Anderson...' The film freely draws from these characters, places them in times and situations for the purpose of illuminating the two writers' relationship. Perhaps one evening, a girlfriend of Guillaume Apollinaire will appear on their doorstep to hand over a child, or the next day a drive in the country will end with a picnic with Apollinaire, Picasso's mistress and the inimitable Mr Henry Hopper. None of these things are known to have ever happened, but they reveal with a fresh intensity those elements of Stein and Toklas' relationship about which we have reasonable certainty, or can glean from second hand accounts.

Waiting for the Moon hardly deals with the physical nature of the relationship between the two, preferring to concentrate on the equivalence of the two women and the modernist literary spirit of Stein's work. The written nature of the dialogue and the sense of occasion, rather than history are the strategies which, most appropriately, the film pays homage to a woman of genius and her companion and one of the most celebrated relationships of the 20th Century, - L.N,

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