And so, we come to the conclusion of the epic An American in Paris ballet. Before I discuss the finale, I’d like to give a quick recap of what we’ve looked at so far in this series:
The Ballet begins in artist Raoul Dufy‘s Place de la Concorde. Our protagonist, Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) finds himself in the artist’s paintings. He picks a red rose up from the ground, but drops it when he is surrounded by women dressed in white. He dances among the crowd of people in the square and he gets his first glimpse of Lise, the girl of his dreams (Leslie Caron). Read more in Part 1 and Part 2.
Jerry enters a flower market that brings to mind the paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He spots a red rose and, as if he conjured her, Lise floats onto the scene. They dance a tender love scene that culminates with her in his arms. Read more in Part 3 and Part 4.
Jerry holds Lise in his arms, but she is quickly replaced with an armful of flowers. He finds himself alone on a Paris street right out of a Maurice Utrillo painting. He broods, but is cheered up by a group of uniformed young men. They enter a shop and buy new outfits, complete with straw hats and canes. Read more in Part 5 and Part 6.
A group of gendarmes leads us to a carnival inspired by Henri Rousseau‘s fanciful artwork. Lise and a group of girls dance with the gendarmes. Jerry and his new pals show up and begin to flirt and dance with the ladies. Jerry and Lise pair up and steal away for an intimate dance on Dufy’s fountain. Read more in Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.
VINCENT VAN GOGH
The couple appear in front of the Paris Opera in a scene inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. They encounter fancy opera-goers and encourage everyone to dance. Read more in Part 10.
HENRI DE TOULOUSE LAUTREC
In front of the opera house Jerry and Lise see an advertisement for an exposition for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Jerry playfully imitates the dancer Chocolat in the sketch. Suddenly, Jerry becomes Chocolat himself and finds himself in the Moulin Rouge of Lautrec’s creation. He quickly finds Lise who is portraying the dancer Jane Avril. The pair dance with the Can-Can dancers and among other famous Lautrec personalities. Read more in Part 11 and Part 12.
So that’s where we left off. The couple is in love and happy, it seems that nothing could go wrong.
They march out of the Moulin Rouge, through Van Gogh‘s scene in front of the opera house (minute 19.34 of the ballet*), to a hall of mirrors (19.38). Spinning in dizzying circles, the scene transitions and the couple finds itself back where they started – in Raoul Dufy‘s crowded Place de la Concorde (22.08).
Joyfully, Lise and Jerry lead the crowd of people in the square in a triumphant dance. But all of a sudden, Lise and their fellow revelers vanish in the blink of an eye (22.28). Jerry is completely alone.
Frantic, he searches for Lise. He races to the gate where the ballet began. Here, he finds the rose where he had dropped it in the first seconds of the ballet. The color disappears from the scene and he is left with nothing but the red rose in his hand.
* Note that in the video I am linking to during this series, the film ballet has been rearranged in order to fit with Gershwin’s original music.