This blog is a reposting from my Olivia de Havilland wordpress blog and was originally published February 23, 2013.
It has been 10 years since Olivia de Havilland so graciously and wonderfully appeared on the Academy Awards. This blog is both a tribute to that moment and my personal editorial commentary about the choice that was made a few weeks ago to remove all references to “The Academy Awards” and all references to this year being the 85th annual ceremony. My opinions and editorial commentary are my own and are not those of Ms. De Havilland.
At the beginning of February, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that produces and gives out The Academy Awards, quietly dropped the name “The Academy Awards” and all references to this being the 85th ceremony.
“We’re rebranding it,” Oscar show co-producer Neil Meron told several media outlets earlier this month. ”We’re not calling it ‘the 85th annual Academy Awards, which keeps it mired somewhat in a musty way. It’s called ‘The Oscars.’” The majority of the show’s posters and advertising materials focus on host Seth MacFarlane and the phrase “The Oscars,” with no mention of how long the Academy has been hosting this shindig and no use of the phrase “Academy Awards.”
This is an incredible move away from the storied history of The Academy Awards. It’s a breathtaking way to ignore the artists of the past and to disassociate this audience from any connection with past movies and artists.
Ten years ago during the celebration of the “75th Annual Academy Awards” the approach was very different. For an unforgettable 2 minutes the world was treated to an appearance by legendary actress Olivia de Havilland who floated across the stage to Max Steiner’s theme to “Gone With the Wind.” In that moment Olivia received a standing ovation from the entire audience and in just a few sentences she summed up the meaning of movies to today’s audience and gave recognition and honor to the past artists.
This night is a memorable one for me, and so was that night 53 years ago. Much has changed in our world since then. But, what hasn’t changed is our love of the movies and their ability to inspire us and to help us through troubled times. Tonight we are celebrating Oscar’s 75th birthday and the great artists who have over the years added so much to our lives through their work.
~ Olivia de Havilland (2003)
I cannot describe my own feelings of jubilation as I watched this moment happen from my student apartment on my college campus. I was in my early 20s (now my early 30s) and was so thrilled with the moment that I screamed with elation and in a matter of seconds introduced a couple girls with whom I lived to one of my favorite actresses, Olivia de Havilland.
I am so grateful that moment happened. I have shared the video over and over with friends and fellow fans of Ms. De Havilland. I have found I am not the only one who can describe in detail where I was and how I felt when Olivia de Havilland made this grand surprise appearance on The 75th Annual Academy Awards. Furthermore, most of my friends and classmates from college, high school, and even elementary school all remember my love of classic films and Gone With the Wind. In fact I even had several people at my 8th grade class reunion tell me how much they have come to enjoy Gone With the Wind and other classic films.
This year, it seems, there will be no tribute to the history of film and no acknowledgement of past artists. For me that is a sad and disappointing situation. ”Old movies” have consciously been a part of my life since I was 9 years old. I remember staying up late on the weekends to watch “All Night Movies on Channel 3″ which brought me The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Yearling, National Velvet, The Little Princess, and other classics.
Even moreso for me have been those exciting moments sitting in the theater and seeing the connections made from the past to the present through the movies. I remember being in middle school and watching Jurassic Park on the big screen for the first time. What an exciting time of my life for this truer than life dinosaur film to come to the theaters. All of my 8th grade friends who were at the theater with me that night collectively took a breath followed by all of us in unison saying “cooooooooool!” Jurassic Park was and still is “cool.” But, a few years later when I was in high school and saw 1933 King Kong, I was stunned and thrilled. That huge black Gorilla, King Kong, obviously created in a much more technology limited situation did amazing things like fight off and kill a T-Rex, climb the empire state building, and grab airplanes out of the sky. Not only was King Kong “cool” but suddenly Jurassic Park wasn’t this film made out of 1 person’s technical genius, the groundwork had clearly been laid decades before and ran right through the middle of another of my favorite film makers, David O. Selznick!
The point of this is that movies aren’t made in a here and now vacuum. The Academy Awards have an 85 year history and films extend beyond that. Of course each year of “The Oscars” is about recognizing those great achievements of that year. But, these films have been created on the foundation of a remarkable history and actively and purposefully removing all acknowledgement of that history to avoid being in “a musty way” is a disservice to both the artists and the audience.
About the Blog
Olivia de Havilland has reached her centenary! July 1, 2016 marks her 100th birthday! Olivia stands as the oldest living recipient of an Academy Award and is a member of a class of only four other women currently living to receive at least two best actress Academy Awards! Her career, life, and legacy continue to inspire and engage generations of fans around the world!
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