October 13, 2011


DIVA  (1981)

This lavish and colourful 1981 French film by Jean-Jacques Beineix, was the next to last "Fashion in Film" offering.  The central plot, which has sub-plots like Jupiter has moons, involves a young postman named Jules (Frederic Andrei) and his obsessive crush on an opera Diva named Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez).

Diva Hawkins, has never allowed her voice to be taped, but at one of her performances, Jules manages to do just that, and, steal her off the shoulder metallic gown from the dressing room as well.

The audio tape of Hawkins' breathtakingly beautiful Aria is mixed up with one incriminating a Parisian police official as the sadistic crime boss he is. The gangster/cop dispatches his goons to retrieve the tape while Taiwanese gang members frantically hunt for the Aria tape in order to make bootleg copies. 

Diva Cynthia Hawkins sings her aria in the soon-to-be stolen gown

Young Jules unknowingly transports the mobster's tape on his motorbike and meets up with gangsters, philosophers, muses and, at long last, his Diva--along the explosion-packed and car chase filled route.

A very 1980s colour scheme: pearl grey and pink--peignoir for a Diva

Feeling remorse, Jules returns the performance gown to Cynthia, with whom he is ever more in love.  Charmed by his sweetness, Diva Hawkins is far more concerned about her voice going public on audio tapes, and, ponders what will become of her career and personal life.

In bold ethnic stripes and jewellrey, Diva Hawkins chats up Jules


This film was part of the cinema du look movement, marking a return to "slick commercial style" (Wikipedia), after  the grittier realism of French cinema in the 1970s. 

Another of DIVA's bright, imaginative posters


DIVA may be cinema du look, but I found it overly long and burdened by unnecessary characters and the attempted inclusion of too many film genres. As the opera Diva, Wilhelmina Fernandez is fashionably turned out.  All in all, it is a stylishly made film which has become a cult classic. 

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