How did Fred Astaire die

Film director Stanley Donen has died : Making the heavy look easy

There are moments when happiness is so great that the laws of gravity are no longer valid. Fred Astaire literally dances up the walls with springy elegance, spinning on the ceiling without stopping smiling for a second.

Gene Kelly folds his umbrella in the pouring rain, stretches his smiling face into the wet wind, hangs himself on a street lamp, and steps over the dark pavement. And sings: "I'm singin 'in the rain / Just singin' in the rain / What a glorious feeling / I'm happy again." These men are in love, their enthusiasm knows no bounds.

Liberates the dance

"Royal Wedding" (1951) and "Singin 'in the Rain" (1952) are among the most famous dance films, their often cited key scenes have gone down in collective memory. Both classics were staged by Stanley Donen. For “Royal Wedding” he had the camera and all the furniture fastened in a kind of drum in order to create the illusion of a freely sliding dance.

"Singin 'in the Rain", which takes place in the transition between silent and sound films, went empty-handed after its premiere at the Academy Awards, but is now ranked among the five best American films of all time by the American Film Institute.

The director remained offended. "We were ignored," he told his biographer. “That wouldn't have been too bad. But instead the Best Picture Award went to The Greatest Show on Earth, one of the worst films ever made. "

Escape to the cinema

Donen was born in South Carolina in 1924 to a Jewish family. From the anti-Semitism he encountered at school, he fled to the cinema, to the dance revues with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, a "fantasy world in which everything seemed happy, comfortable and protected."

At 16 he went to New York to pursue a career as a dancer, appeared in the Broadway hit "Pal Joey" with Gene Kelly, after further engagements he saved some money and bought a ticket to Hollywood. He was 24 years old when he co-directed the musical "On The Town" along with Kelly through three sailors on shore leave in New York.

Donen and Kelly achieved a renaissance of dance film, they directed three films together. However, the star had a large ego, they often quarreled on the set and fell apart in disagreement. Their relationship didn't get any better when Kelly married the dancer Jeanne Coyne, who had previously been the first of Donen's five wives.

The director made the most complicated choreographies appear amazingly simple and had the gift of making actors shine. In "Funny Face" (1957) Audrey Hepburn moves in glamorous Givenchy clothes through a Paris that consists largely of backdrops. Her masterpiece was "Charade" (1963), a screwball comedy in homage and parody of Hitchcock's thriller "The Invisible Third", with Cary Grant at Hepburn's side.

Stepping with Oscar

Stanley Donen said goodbye to cinema in 1984 with the comedy "It's Rio to Blame". When he received the Oscar for life's work in 1998 from his admirer Martin Scorsese, he stepped across the stage with the gold figure to the melody of “Cheek to Cheek”. Now the director, whose influence extends to films like “La La Land” or “The Artist”, has died in New York. He was 94 years old. Christian Schröder

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