Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: Cusser on November 16, 2002, 01:47:35 PM



Title: Debra
Post by: Cusser on November 16, 2002, 01:47:35 PM
OK, young Debra was hot, and grew up to be actress Jennifer C., older Debra was not good casting, in my opinion.  Anyway, I think Leone blew it a little here: when older Noodles meets up with her in her dressing room, she looks un-aged.  I would've had her look unaged when Noodles is looking at her but same age as Noodles when she looks at herself in the mirror, to show that in Noodles' mind and memory she didn't age.  Just what I would've done.  


Title: Re:Debra
Post by: Renny on November 16, 2002, 02:35:54 PM
Good point Cusser. Darn you found a "small" mistake in the ultimate masterpiece :'(


Title: Re:Debra
Post by: Garry Cowell on January 29, 2003, 05:38:33 AM
It just another clue that the whole 60's parts are infact an opium fuelled dream!  :o ;)


Title: Re:Debra
Post by: AlistairLW on April 14, 2003, 05:41:12 PM
I haven't seen this movie for a while (waiting for the DVD!) but on another web site, it was pointed out that in this scene, there's a poster for the production that Debra's starring in. The poster states that Debra's character could not be altered or withered by time, and Noodles comments on this -- noting that the "part could have been written for you" (or some such comment).
At the very least, this would indicate that this was not simply an oversight by Leone. Perhaps they weren't able to make Debra look older (although later in the film, when we see her at Max's house, she does in fact look older). Or, perhaps there was some deliberate significance to retaining her youthful looks in that earlier scene. Who knows? This is a very deep movie in many ways -- perhaps that's what adds to its allure. Even if it was deliberate, I'm not sure we should worry too much about Leone might really have intended. I'm reminded of a comment that Tolkein once made, that he "cordially dislikes allegory in all its manifestations" ... "I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader [viewer] and the other in the purposed domination of the author [director]."


Title: Re:Debra
Post by: shorty larsen on April 18, 2003, 02:45:52 PM
I think that Roberto Bartual's article on this very site could help us. Here goes a paragraph:


"Also in Once Upon A Time In America we find trails of this expressive subtlety in the treatment of an element repeated in this two Leone's films: the own image. It's of great poetic importance the role the mirrors have in this film, the first mirror of the movie is that of the already commented sequence of the bus station which Noodles sees his face of an old man reflected on to the sound of Yesterday (from which Morricone conveniently eliminates the lyrics with the exception of the first word: Yesterday, in order to make us recall the song and recognize that we don't remember the lyrics anymore) ;in a first moment the spectator could interpret the look of Robert De Niro as nostalgia of a lost youth, something that the music contributes to, nevertheless a repeated vision of the film allows us to interpret his gaze as a remembrance of the words the child Deborah told him fifty years back, but forward in the film, in front of a mirror like this: "Look at yourself in the mirror, Noodles" obliging him cruelly to face his reality, hitting him with her superiority as an unreachable beauty and as a person who will be able to succeed. The bitter gaze of this teenager Noodles in the second mirror is, in fact, the same gaze of the old Noodles although it is bare of that great heaviness caused by the burden of the years and the vital loathing; the gaze of the child Noodles is sad, premonitory of this other gaze, but with all the hopes of the youth.

There is, finally, a third mirror, the mirror of the last confrontation between Noodles and Deborah, the one which through they close the (in)communication started with the second one. After having raped her thirty years before Noodles enters the dressing-room of Deborah, now being a great star, who is sitting down in front of the large mirror of the boudoir. Noodles remains standing, distant, at a side of her, the faces of the two lovers reflecting in the mirror, hers with a beauty still patent, his brow old and tired; they don't look at each other faces, and when she, without words, tells him that she had already forgiven him, they can confront each other again face to face to discover that they cannot say each other anything anymore even though she loved him all this years."


Debra will always represent the "superiority as an unreachable beauty". That is why she doesn't look old as Noodles.