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I have watched this film and shared it with friends dozens of times over
during the last 15 years. It is true as "jimmylee" has stated in his
comments that it is a rare glimpse into the creative process and into the
very private life of Lily, her partner Jane, and their production company.
I found many bits very candid and revealing and it only endeared both of
them and their art to me. They show themselves to be just a couple of
hard working girls like millions of other working girls. The difference,
course, is that their work is much more public than most. The work they
for this show is part of and reveals much of the prevailing culture of the
seventies and eighties. Lily Tomlin, herself, is a cultural icon in her
I enjoyed it many times before I actually got the pleasure of seeing the one woman show that came out of the work in progress documented in this film - "Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe". I enjoyed it so much and wore out a copy of the play I bought to such an extent, that the live show was a huge disappointment for me! Quite unfair to such a brilliant artist and her writer.
I have many more questions than answers about each of their creative processes and I was left wanting to know much more.
This is a movie of the making of Lily Tomlin's Tony awarding winning 1 woman show "The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe". Lily and her writer/partner Jane Wagner toured the country while they were working on this show, calling it simply "works in progress". They played little theatres and Lily would go out before an audience with material Jane had typed out for her and work on the pieces, telling the audience it was very new. This is a documentary and it is a rare and fascinating look at the creative process these two women use to craft their talents into a brilliant evening of theatre; a 2 hour play. Lily is the performer, Jane is the writer. Lily goes out and performs the material, what doesn't work, gets discussed, analyzed and eventually re-written by Jane. There are also clips of Lily's TV specials in the film as well that are a real treat to watch. Lily is a private, guarded person and this film shows it. She's not Madonna, who will do or say anything on camera for all to see. There are times when it is obvious she'd rather not have the camera following her everywhere. But overall, there is not any "personal dishing/information" revealed about Lily that would tabloidize her or the film. This film simply shows how Lily and Jane go from little half written sketches into full blown characters. Lily/Jane created 12 new characters for this show. It is simply amazing to watch them work. The movie ends with opening night on Broadway and Lily bowing to a standing ovation. As I mentioned above, she eventually won the Tony award for her work in the "Search". If you have the rare opportunity to see this film anywhere, do so. It was made about 1984/85 and is hardly ever rerun anywhere but if you're a Lily Tomlin fan this is a "MUST SEE" film. I give it 8 out of 10 stars.
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