I am not in Los Angeles. Not physically at least. It was the “Cinematheque royale de Belgique” to bring me back for a couple of hours. Tonight here in a torrid Brussels, they screened “Chinatown“, the marvellous 1974 film directed by Roman Polanski and magnicifently interpreted by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and a great, huge John Huston.
It is a dark crime story shot in a beautifully sunny L.A. and it is about the city’s eternal struggle for (more) water. The character of Hollis Mulwray – the man who gets killed at beginning of the movie – is inspired by the historical figure of William Mulholland, the designer and engineer for the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brought water from the Owens Valley (east of the Sierra Nevada) to Los Angeles. The project gave the possibility to start the development of the San Fernando Valley and its incorporation in the city of Los Angeles.
However, since I am still under the powerful enchantment of the City of Angles, it was the views of L.A. I was constantly looking for and cherishing. From the cliffs by the Ocean to the lunch at (my favourite) Musso and Franks in Hollywood Boulevard, from the mansions on the hills behind Hollywood to the powerful final scene in Chinatown, the film brings to the surface all the magic and mystery of a unique place.
The film got 11 Oscar nominations including Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway for best actor and actress but it won only the Academy Award for best original screenplay. It was 1974, the year of Godfather, part II.