If... Lindsay Anderson

Albert Johnson
1969 Film quarterly  
Isadora and her Grecian ideals of simplicity, beauty, feeling have given way to the gyrations of an indistinguishable mass of jerky, peppy jazz babies-vapid, bob-haired, bow-tied automatons, whose dance is passionless frenzy. Her death-the sudden strangulation-stuns us with its abruptness and ugliness: we see the head flung back, the eyes frozen in a ghastly stare, the body imprisoned by her scarf, the symbol of her freedom. This brutal moment shocks us out of any sentimentality we cultivate
more » ... ut the artist's life. It is the final comment on Isadora's vulnerability; the harsh rebuttal to her creativity, her dedication to life; a mocking of her attempt to clarify reality through art; it is death, the ultimate absurdity art cannot answer. The camera moves from the body to the young dancers by the sea, blithely ignorant of tragedy, and finally to the sea, where even their buoyant strains become an eerie, ghost-like echo. Death comes suddenly to each generation. And "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" is an appropriate epitaph both for them and for Isadora. The song has the deceptive sense of life in its rhythmic vitality, but its melancholy words suggest finality.
doi:10.2307/1210312 fatcat:nandyfdiobhr7cifzoqzm7jnlq