Lives of Performers

Series Site

“The world is a stage/ The show is a stage…”—anyways that’s what the cast of Vincente Minnelli’s musical blowout The Band Wagon (1953) have to say in their big number “That’s Entertainment,” and they oughtta know. The world and the show just keep blending together in this collection of films about actors, dancers, and musicians, men and women who move between the clarifying spectacle of the stage and the complexities of life outside of the spotlight. In the soundstage New Orleans circus of Max Ophüls’s Lola Montes (1955); Maggie Cheung’s interpretation of Ruan Lingyu, tragic star of 1930s Shanghai cinema, in Stanley Kwan’s Center Stage (1991); or the backstage bedlam of The Band Wagon, the separation between life and art can sometimes seem nearly nonexistent—which is all part of the show, of course.