05 February 2010

The September Issue

The DVD of The September Issue is being released on the 23rd. When I saw it in the theater last year, I was frustrated by its overemphasis on the editorial process and its glossing over of moments that could've proved to be liminal and profoundly revealing of its central character. Although it was interesting to see Anna Wintour's selection process and the actual construction of a September Vogue issue, the subtext of the whole film was, supposedly, to provide insight into what makes Ms. Wintour function, and even -- some might say -- to humanize her.

Though her choices are interesting, more interesting is why she makes the choices she does. There is a particularly poignant moment in the film, in which she refers to the disparate career paths of herself and her siblings. Without ever changing her facial expression or tone, she seems to reveal a bitter sibling rivalry. She says, flatly and maybe sarcastically, that her siblings are saving the world, and they find her work vapid and meaningless.

I was stunned by her comment. As a middle child with five competitive siblings, this information was hugely revealing as it illuminated a great deal to me about Ms. Wintour's M.O.. But apparently it was not even slightly compelling to the director, R.J. Cutler, who let it come and go without comment and never returned to it. He seemed to find the dynamic between Grace Coddington and Ms. Wintour to be far more deserving of attention, and though it was interesting, how much more compelling would it have been if we were to have learned that Anna Wintour's decisions are influenced by a fierce desire to prove to her siblings, and the world, that fashion is neither vapid nor meaningless; or that it is, but who cares anyway when it is the source of her power?


Margaret said...

Hmm. It's interesting you would say that the director let her statement "come and go without comment and never returned to it". Like you, my husband and I both thought it was one of the most important moments in the film. Personally, I was very glad no comment was made about her statement. It spoke for itself. In my view, it would have cheapened the whole thing if they had used a heavy hand to analyse her psychology (a little too "E! True Hollywood Story", if you catch my drift).

About Me said...

Hi Margaret! I agree, and I definitely wasn't suggesting a melodramatic "True Hollywood Story" commentary. Maybe comment was the wrong word since this is a documentary and the director's job is to document moments, not talk about them. However, it is the director's job to find a narrative in what he documents and tell a story. I was simply suggesting that Anna's comment was the intro to what could've been a very interesting story.