Real Talkies

Real Talkies

Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.

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October 10, 2010 , , , , , ,

Amargosa is a fascinating story about a reclusive artist and dancer Marta Becket and her Amargosa Opera House. This elegantly photographed documentary is about the life and times of 74 year old Marta Becket, a dancer, painter and musician who abandoned the hustle and bustle of the dance world in New York  to settle in Death Valley Junction, California in the 1960s. Becket’s life and the documentary is a testimony to the eternal struggle an artist goes through to find their personal expression.




Death Valley, a desert in Eastern California is possibly one of the lowest, driest and hottest spots in the U.S.A. There in a town with a population of only 10 people, she rented and renovated an old opera house. She herself hand painted the walls and ceilings with people. These people were created from her imagination, her fantasies and her childhood memories. What if no real people came to her shows? She will then perform for the audience in her Mural’s and so she created them with great care and made sure they were people of exquisite taste. Marta was not performing or creating art but immersed herself in it and lived it.

As a child with a disapproving father and later in life, as an up and coming artist in New York City Marta was constantly seeking external approval. In Amargosa she spun a world of illusion, she organized and choreographed dances and shows.  She came to realize that while she created, she experienced joy, that is inside her and no one can take that away. Sharing it with people was secondary.

The film is not singularly focused on Marta’s artistic endeavors. The spooky nature of this almost ghost town, the peculiar residences of the town, Marta’s parents, her animals (cats, burros and horses), the ridiculously cute Thomas Willet (her dance companion, theater help and box office mate)  and the beautiful landscape of the Death Valley are richly and eloquent included in the documentary.

The film captures the spirit of this wonderful artist who was not afraid to follow her dreams and do what her heart told her.

PS: I believe Marta still performs at the Opera house but Thomas Willet is no more and she sorely missed her jack of all trades companion. To learn more about the opera house or to visit it


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