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Customer Review

on April 4, 2004
"Lili" ranks with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as one of the three finest motion pictures ever filmed. Its captivating song, "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo," ranks with "Over the Rainbow," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "You'll Never Know," and "It's a Grand Night for Singing" as one of the five best original movie songs. Its climactic dream-ballet sequence, in which Lili dances with life-sized versions of four puppets, is rivaled only by the "Out of My Dreams" dream-ballet sequence of "Oklahoma." And no actress has ever been more adorable and endearing--or capable--than Leslie Caron is in this movie.
Not really a musical, Lili is best described as a romantic fable or sophisticated fairy tale. It tells the story of a naive 16-year-old orphan who joins a carnival. There she brings success to a lame puppeteer (Mel Ferrer) by interacting with his four puppets. Her ingenuousness leads her to regard the puppets as real persons. Ferrer, though outwardly bitter about the war injury that ruined his career as an acclaimed dancer, shows flashes of inner kindness and humanity: he uses his puppets at one point to infuse joy into a despondent Lili, and he smiles when she isn't looking. Soon he falls in love with Lili. But she can't recognize as Ferrer's the tenderness that is revealed only in the puppets. Repelled by the overt rudeness of "the angry man," Lili becomes infatuated with the carnival's magician, a ladies' man. When she eventually learns the magician is married, Lili's eyes open. But the puppeteer's jealousy still clouds her vision. She decides to leave the carnival. Her departure precipitates the dream sequence. Here, dancing with the four puppets she has grown to love, she slowly realizes that each character represents a facet of the puppeteer's personality. Gola the giant, for example, is frightened by girls, so he tries to frighten them; but he is actually cowardly, clumsy, longing to be loved. Lili's belated recognition that Gola and the others are really Ferrer brings the story to its heartwarming conclusion.
This imaginative movie is more than a classic. It is pure enchantment. Make it your top priority.
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