“The purple rose of Cairo” represents in some way what Woody Allen has though all of his life about films. The first time he went to the movies he was just a kid and he felt so excited that he stood up and touch the screen. From that day on, the legendary director has believed that movies are just a fantasy that helps us to escape from the real world, which from his point of view, as we all know, is a place full of misery and loneliness and it ends up too quickly.
The film is set in New Jersey during the Great Depression and it tells the story of Cecilia (Farrow), a clumsy waitress who goes to the movies to escape her bleak life and loveless marriage to Monk, whom she has attempted to leave on numerous occasions. One day, she sees a movie named “The purple rose of Cairo”, which is the story of a rich Manhattan playwright who goes on an exotic vacation to Egypt, where he and his wife meet archeologist Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels). Tom is perfect, besides of being really handsome, he’s kind, loving and caring. Cecilia finds in this character everything she can’t find in a man from the real world. She becomes obsessed with the movie and she watches it over and over again until something really odd happens: Tom Baxter literally breaks the fourth wall, emerging from the black-and-white into the colorful real world on the other side of the cinema’s screen. The producers of the movie will be told about this event, so as the paparazzi and the ordinary people who will be shocked.
In this case, Woody shows us the role of movies in society, emphasized during a decadent period of time in American history as it was the Great Depression in the 30’s. Through a very crazy and original tale he leads to reflection upon some questions such as “Where does reality ends and fantasy begins?” or “Should we live merged inside a fantasy world or should we accept life with its ugliness?”
Once again Allen expresses his feelings and ideas through a very well told movie that make us remain sitting after it ends, thinking about some existential matters for a couple of minutes.