(1987) 88 minutes
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WAITING FOR THE MOON is a "biographie imaginaire" of the famous
literary couple, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas - a fictional feature
that proposes a troubled year in the lives of these two lovers - that year
when Gertrude thinks she's dying of an incurable disease. Being Gertrude
Stein, she isn't interested in such facts, only in ideas. Alice, on the
other hand, is interested in their relationship. The film is perfectly true
to Stein's literary spirit but plays, in gentle comedy, with the facts.
It takes places simultaneously in their famous Paris home at 27, rue de
Fleurus and in their country house in the small village of Bilignin.
As Time Magazine said in Alice's obituary, "Their Left Bank
apartment was the living room of the Lost Generation. Through it passed
every star in the artistic firmament between the two world wars - Hemingway
and Fitzgerald, Picasso and Matisse, T.S. Eliot and Sherwood Anderson."
This is the setting for WAITING FOR THE MOON, which plays off the myths
of Stein and Toklas and enhances them unabashedly with imaginary events,
claiming as its own the unchartered territory which lies somewhere between
history and fiction. The film proposes a portrait of these two women - not
a photograph. In the spirit of Stein, it freely maneuvers time, place and
character to present a portrait of the writer in her own modernist terms.
It delights in the humor and the irony that flowed from Stein, and uses
that humor to construct, and then to deconstruct, their own mythology. Because
it's a film about Stein, it's a film about language - but not just Gertrude's.
There's a French priest who gives Alice a long lecture, in the form of a
riddle, on the subject of patience. There a beautiful tale told by Apollinaire
over a campfire (with roasting marshmallows) about a camping trip he and
Cocteau took one night up the side of a mountain after a meal of wild, poisonous
mushrooms. There's a long, nasty and jealous harangue by a drunken Hemingway
to Getrude about her relationship with Alice - a most unpleasant speech,
not unlike his description of Gertrude and Alice in "A Moveable Feast".
And there's a beautiful story told by Gertrude to Alice as they lay next
to each other in bed. Gertrude has finally come to the realization that
she must say goodbye to Alice, somehow, and she does, with a story. But
when she has finished the telling, she looks over to discover that Alice
is fast asleep.
from American Film, Shawn Levy
""Beautifully shot by director Jill Godmilow, WAITING FOR
THE MOON, is a lush sort of minimalist film that sees the writing life of
Gertrude Stein as a matter-of-fact aspect of her existence, concentrating
instead on the odd domesticity the author shared with her lover (and copy-editor,
according to the script), Alice B. Toklas. They cook, they quarrel, they
adopt a child, they discover postmodernism. Writing is, for once, shown
as a natural act and a quotidian job of work. It is an unassumingly lovely
and resonant film."
from the L.A. Times, Sheila Benson
"It's a film biography of an audacious and tender nature, one that
mixes what was with what might have been with a sure and ingenious hand.
What a civilized delight. It has the tang of fine language, the breadth
of its subject matter, the beauty of its settings, photography and music
and a rare maturity in its outlook. All this, and an evening with Linda
Hunt too. What an oasis for the parched adult."
from New York Magazine, John Leonard
"WAITING FOR THE MOON is gentle, loving and literate. It's a charming
dream, and educated too."
selected festivals and prizes
Sundance Film Festival, First Prize
Houston Film Festival, First Prize
Munich Film Festival
Cleveland Film Festival
USA Film Festival, Dallas
Cartagena Film Festival
broadcast in U.S., England, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and The Netherlands