' ' Cinema Romantico: Adventures in Movie Promotional Photos, part 111

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Adventures in Movie Promotional Photos, part 111

A little while back, Chicago was besieged by inclement weather, severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. So, as the local news breathlessly broke down the Doppler, I did what I often do in such situations and Googled “Twister.” Maybe it was streaming, I thought, and maybe I could watch a little before the tornado siren sounded and I fled to the cellar. But I never got that far. No, what I saw instead was an image captured lo those 27 years ago. This image:

At first, I assumed it must have been snapped at the “Twister” premiere. But the premiere took place in Oklahoma, where the movie is set, and astute readers will notice the baseball cap sported by Woody Harrelson (who is not in the movie) as belonging to the city of Atlanta’s baseball team. Indeed, just behind Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton (who are in the movie), with a hand on each of their shoulders, is Jane Fonda (who is not in the movie) who in 1996 would have been married to Ted Turner, owner of Atlanta’s Major League Baseball organization. Indeed, this, as it turned out, was the “Twister” premiere...with a twist. That is to say, it was the “Twister” premiere benefitting Jane Fonda’s G-CAPP (The Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential), held at Atlanta’s Fox Theater one day after the “Twister” premiere in Oklahoma City. 

But what I am even talking about here? This is all setting the scene and, honestly, you don’t need the scene to be set. The scene sets itself. This photo exists independently of where it took place. It does because of Hunt, of course. And though you can find photos from this same scene snapped just before or after the above photo that show Hunt smiling and seemingly jovial and happy to be there, in the vacuum of this single image, that matters as little as the surrounding context. Because there, here, all on its own, in Hunt’s frown amid this sea of smiles is where the truth emerges.

It might be tempting to ask, who are they looking at? Because clearly, they are looking at someone. (Ted Turner? Speculation!) But whoever is outside of the frame does not affect what is inside the frame, which is perfect all on its own, one moment in time that feels eternal, a split-second in which Helen Hunt, consciously or not, embodies the overcrowded agony of the movie premiere, where rather than standing on a red carpet, you wish to god you were sprawled at home on your couch. 

No comments: