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Le Film






A Beautiful Roaring Scream...

Happy, and sad, both at the same time.... That is just part of the mystical world of Alegria: Le Film. It is a magical journey through emotion -- which keeps stepping across the lines between sorrow and joy, anger and fear, dark and light, reality and imagination. It is filled with images and songs, contrasts and likenesses each intended to have meaning. There is little, if any filler, in Alegria. Every bit has meaning. It is a story with a message -- a true fable.

The film begins with the lovely song "Let Love Be" as performers float out of a starry sky to the world below. The song sheds light on the tale we are about to witness. The story plays out while each main character straddles some "line" of emotional struggle. Frac, the mime (played beautifully by Rene Bazinet) is overcome by despair. He obviously was once very dedicated to his art, but his love for it is gone. All he has are boxes of memories that no longer bring happiness. He destroys everything and is headed out of town following the railroad. He sees an oncoming train and decides to end his life. Blinded by his own sorrow, he doesn't realize he has someone who needs him.

Momo, a bright but angry child, looks up to Frac. Enslaved and forced to peddle flowers by the evil Marcello, Momo lives his childhood through Frac. You can see the hate in Momo's eyes. But since Momo is a child, he doesn't understand what Frac is going through. He seems to think that since Frac is an adult, Frac should know what is going on. Momo tries to follow Frac and lays himself on the tracks beside him. The mime is shocked to his senses and pushes Momo off the tracks. But soon, Frac is to be blinded by a different emotion.

Giulietta, the star of her fathers' circus, sees what is going on from the train as it screeches to a halt. While the performers get off the train, a strange seer warns of an omen. As Giulietta finds a torn picture of Frac, they meet. A star shoots across the sky as the two smile at each other and fall instantly in love. The shooting star is seen throughout the film and symbolizes this gift of love. There is a sense that these two have always known each other, but before they can speak, the performers and the realization that he has to find Momo frighten Frac off.

Giulietta has lived a good life growing up in the circus. She has a large circus family that adores her and is loved by her audience as well. Sheltered under her fathers' wings, she never thought of wanting, or needing more, until she met Frac. Fleur, her father, seems to know this. Fleur is a wise man. Watchful of his daughter, he tries to protect her by telling her what she saw was "just children playing games", but he knows that is not the case.

Fleur senses what has happened As Giulietta is about to be pulled between the gravity of the world she knows and the world she now desires, Fleur is torn between fear and anger. He thinks he is protecting his daughter, but in reality he is protecting himself.

As the story moves along, we see the dark images of the ghetto where Frac and Momo exist. There is the Cafe Opera, where Frac's friend, Old Taps, represents the man that is stuck in life and will not try to change it. We see the many children with broken spirits, forced to work in Marcellos' dungeon. The images are, in a sense, timeless. It doesn't matter what model car you see in the film--you could just as easily be in Dickens' England. The story, narrated by an elderly Momo as he unwraps his tale to a troupe of young cirque performers, is true to what he says in the beginning--it is feelings and impressions. Momo is mad at Frac for being in love. The child wants love, but only feels hate. Frac's new love and hope have brought nothing new to Momo. He is still alone.

In contrast to the ghetto, the circus is full of color and beauty. Frac comes to the circus with flowers in search of his love. He doesn't know it, but he has help. The clowns also saw what happened that night at the train. The clowns know. They know true love must be, even if Fleur doesn't believe it. The clowns "kidnap" the confused mime and sneak him into the circus. Frac eventually stumbles onto the stage where Giulietta is singing. Their eyes drown in each other, and Frac asks her her name. But as is to be expected, Fleur has Frac tossed from the circus. Frac tries to ask the deaf clown the singers' name. The clown isn't going to make it that easy and seals his lips with a smile.

Fleur knows Frac will be back and tries to discourage his daughter. As we see the torn picture Giulietta stares at, one can tell she doesn't need the whole picture to know the whole man.

As Momo wanders the streets alone, wondering how he will survive, we again are presented with dark images of what lays ahead for him begging and worse. The song "Love Leaves Someone Behind" leaves its message with the audience. Momo decides he will try to rescue the other children, but despite an apparent success, the children will not leave Marcello's dungeon. The world has already discarded them once and there is nowhere for them to go--no one that cares about their situation. But one lonely little girl joins Momo to go look for Frac, who is still searching for his love.

Again with the help of the clowns and a little liquor, Frac ends up on stage with Giulietta, this time in the guise of an Old Bird. Amidst the action on the fast track their eyes again fall upon one another and ones' heart melts as the two interact. At first, Fleur seems subdued-almost as if he has accepted their love. But again, before the lovers can kiss, Fleur steps in and makes a mockery of their love to the audience. He has allowed his fear and anger to turn him into nothing more than the fool he plays on stage. The only thing he manages is to help Momo understand what Frac is feeling and to help his daughter make the decision to leave. Unable to follow his own "The Show Must Go On" speech, the circus falls apart and everyone is alone. "Child in his Eyes" plays as the performers scatter into the ghetto, contrasted with fairytale images of the performers at a fountain.

Frac cannot help himself despite his shattered hopes. He finds himself living beneath the gaze of the singers' image on a billboard. Our omnipotent clown again steps in and helps Frac regain his "vision". He is taken to Marcellos' factory where Momo and Giulietta are being held. He is no longer blind to what Momo and the children have lived through. He seems ashamed for thinking only of his own despair. He is willing to fight for the children, but is no match for Marcello's thugs. But he has shown the children something greater - He cares. The children stand on their own in his defense and free themselves. Again, joy seems short-lived as news comes to the now freed Giulietta of the fate of the circus. Frac and Giulietta know what must be done to ensure that love leaves no one behind. So, she takes the children back to the circus with her. Frac, meanwhile, knows where unwanted performers go. In a quiet good-bye, Frac leaves his hat with Old Taps, as if to let Taps know there is a way out.

As the children pile into the bleachers, Fleur appears pleased but confused - there is no circus for them to see. Then Frac appears on stage. Fleur's face is apprehensive as Giulietta joins her love. Then the performers step out of the dark and into the light. Fleur's face lights as he realizes this man he tried to lock out of his life, has given his life back to him. Finally, after asking the singer her name, Frac and Giulietta kiss. The children scream out in joy, Momo smiles and Fleur says good-bye to the fool he once was. The magical song "Alegria" brings up the finale of the film, as all are one. The story ends touchingly, with the performers being launched back into the starry sky.

An old Momo reminds the young performers of the moral of the tale at the end of Alegria. He echoes Fleur in encouraging them to invest every emotion into what they love--their show. He tells them to live with humanity because whatever they do, it can change someone's life.

But this story has even deeper meaning. Some say they don't like the film because it is not the live performance, or is too metaphorical. It is and is supposed to be. It is all intertwined, all connected--but that's what Alegria is--Alegria is life. Without knowing sorrow, one cannot know joy. Without the dark, one cannot experience the light. We all have these things in common, and the road to happiness is not always easy. It is choosing the right path when it lies before us, and knowing that in our darkest hour, something as simple as a smile can change our life forever.

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