Wednesday, June 25, 2008

esther williams: swimming and smiling at the same time

as the school year draws to a close and the coup de grace is being delivered to another full year's work, it seems like the golden fish is going through a "do you remember" phase. today's post continues the trend. i feel certain that when my holidays begin, the post will return to its more divergent and unpredictable self.

esther williams surely ranks as one of the most extraordinary women to have entered a swimming pool. she turned a skill that is usually restricted to backyards or - at best - competitive swimming pools, and managed to turn it into not just an act but a compelling and lucrative act at that!

esther took the highly athletic, physically gruelling and marginalized sport of synchronized swimming and turned it into an artform. behind the art lay hours and hours of punishing rehearsals that often left her with ruptured eardums, not to mention that while she was performing the endless and extended underwater scenes, she nearly drowned on several occasions. esther was fearless performing all her own stunts including one dive off a 115 foot diving tower that ended up with her breaking her neck and living in a body cast for seven months!

i love the symmetry of the sets and the swimmers, the grace with which she moves through the water (how do you swim and smile at the same time?), and the way she plays to the camera knowing full well the effect she was having on every man in the audience ‘cause let’s face it, the girl was a knockout! oh and i have to mention the effects including in this scene, fountains with huge fires burning inside them!!!

feast your eyes . . . .

it’s incredible stuff and since you’re still here perhaps you should have a look at the finale to million dollar mermaid - her most famous movie . . . . the trapeze artists appearing from a cloud of smoke and cracking off synchronized dives from high up in the air!!! the aerial shot of esther being hauled up a kazillion feet while hanging onto a metal ring and beneath her a mandala of bathing beauties into which she fearlessly plummets! wow!! you’ve got to see this!!


Goldenrod said...

Except for your use of the word "marginalized", I couldn't agree more, Steven. In fact, I mentioned her in my post of June 19th, "Preview of upcoming attractions". I saw all of her movies when they first came out. One thing that I didn't include in my post (and you didn't in yours, either) was why she stopped making films. It seems that Fernando asked her to, and she replied, "OK". I can still (in my mind) hear her saying that, so it must have been in an interview.

steven said...

hi goldenrod! thanks for your comments. i was trying to remember esther's name and i cruised through your post of june 19th and there it was. i might've even left a thankyou comment on your blog for the name!! by the way, i used the word "marginalized" to describe my experiencing of syncro as a sport in comparison to the big buck high profile sports such as gymnastics and figure skating. it just doesn't seem to enjoy the same degree of popularity. i can't imagine asking a person to stop something she was so clearly in love with and incredibly skilled at, but then i'm not married to someone who is constantly hurting herself in pursuit of her vocation!!!