Chanel No. 5 Films and the question of Stardom.

These are a couple of the Chanel No. 5 Films which have come out in recent years. This merging of entertainment and advertising is called ‘Branded Content’ – which as the name suggests is working towards marketing a certain Brand Name. In this case, it’s the classic Chanel Number 5 perfume, which has had female endorsements from Marilyn Monroe to Catherine Deneuve. It’s interesting to note – through the main choice of female actress – the way stardom works.

1. Both films reference each actresses’ most known and popular film – Amelie for Audrey Tautou and Moulin Rouge for Nicole Kidman

2. Both films were directed by the same director as the films listed above – Baz Lurhmann for Kidman’s Chanel No. 5 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet for Amelie.

3. Look at the way nationality is rendered in each film – the subtle differences between European Femininity and White American Femininity (despite Kidman’s Australian roots).

4. Both films have a marked different visual aesthetic despite the fact that they are selling the same product. Look at the pinkish tones paired with Kidman’s blonde hair as opposed to the yellow tones paired with Tautou.

Each star has a different persona that is built over a career of appearing in films, advertisements, magazines, talk shows, and inter-textual materials. A star’s on-screen and off-screen persona as well as their public and private life begin to merge. If you’re interested in stardom as a formal discourse, I would suggest Richard Dyer’s book Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979) – in which Dyer sets out to distinguish between stars as a social phenomenon, stars as images, and stars as signs. Furthermore, he analyses the tensions between ‘character’, star, and performance.

I leave you with a question from Dyer to ponder over stardom and performance…

Are stars a phenomenon of production (arising from what the makers of films provide) or of consumption (arising from what the audience for films demands)? (Stars, Pg. 9)

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in Central Park … bringing back graceful dance.

This is an extract from the film The Band Wagon (1953). Notice how the music starts way before the couple begins dancing, and even then, they don’t make contact until over a minute and a half into the song. The anticipation and gracefulness is absolutely stunning and reminds me, yet again, why I love Classical Hollywood Musicals.

P.S. If you want to get into film studies and this topic in particular… you MUST check out Rick Altman’s book The American Film Musical.

“Filmed dance is doubly difficult to evoke in words, for Hollywood’s directors have become unusually adept at making the camera dance along with the actors.” (Altman, 40)

CalArts and the Legendary Offsprings of room A113 are featured in Vanity Fair.

CalArts and the Legendary Offsprings of room A113 are featured in Vanity Fair.

Well, well, well… anyone who’s watched an animated film in the last 15 years has probably seen the result of this legendary class of Character Animation at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). Most of PIXAR’s founding members were students of the classic Disney artists in the 70s and 80s. This Vanity Fair article is such a good summary and insight into the cultural climate and history of animation at the time – the lead up to the animation revival of the 1990s/2000s. It is definitely worth a read. (Just click on the photo to go to the article!!)

I get so inspired by this story (and this group of youngsters). But I think the lesson to take away from this is that you must be determined, hard-working, but also courageous to take risks and new opportunities. Today, there is no guarantee that graduating from CalArts will automatically lead you to become an animation director. These directors graduated at a different time in history and I believe that there will be a new wave of animation in the future. The question is, who is willing to create a new path and lead this revolution?

Chocolate can bring back to life Audrey Hepburn! How morally acceptable is that?

Well, the digital revolution of character creation using digital computer software has finally been applied to television commercials. This Audrey Hepburn is life-like, organic, and beautifully lit. Visual Special Effects technology has come a long way since the awkward looking gaming characters that were not quite realistic enough. Initially, I like this ad because I’m a fan of Hepburn’s work.

Although there is something unsettling about bringing back Hepburn through digital technology. It seems that now more than ever before, people are loosing the ability to control their public image. How is it possible that a company can use Hepburn’s image to add to her persona without her written legal consent? I understand that celebrities are media constructs that are separate from the actual person, but nevertheless, it is the celebrities image that is at stake. I understand if it’s a fictional character based on a look-a-like, but this was intentioned to be Hepburn – her look, performance, aura, everything. If we can start bringing back celebrities from classical Hollywood, how will that change celebrity endorsements? And who will chose which advertisements the dead celebrities will star in? Will VFX threaten ‘the self’ image in today’s digital world?

Conclusion: Amazing, but unsettling

Ginger ‘Snap’ Rogers – the feisty blonde of Classical Hollywood.

This is a short extract from Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937) featuring Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn. I’ve developed an obsession with Rogers: she dances with Fred Astaire, she banters with Hepburn, and she exudes a beauty beyond her platinum blonde hair. I’m a fan of fast, witty dialogue – especially when delivered by great actresses.

If you’ve never seen her films, here are some personal recommendations, from me to you:

42nd Street (1933)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
Top Hat (1935)
Shall We Dance (1936)
Kitty Foyle (1940)
The Major and the Minor (1942)
Monkey Business (1952)

“Sure [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards…and in high heels!” — Bob Thaves 1982 © NEA Inc.

PLUS, She also has her own website: www.gingerrogers.com

Just think MURDER and you can become an actress or a queen. Your choice.

When Charlize Theron was asked ‘how to walk like a queen’ on The Ellen Show: 

1  23  4

Stardom and Performance Quotes: 

“Movie actors therefore learn to control and modulate behaviour to fit a variety of situations, suiting their actions to a medium that might view them at any distance, height, or angle and that sometimes changes the vantage point within a single shot.”

– James Naremore, Acting in the Cinema (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 21.

“Performance is what the performer does in addition to the actions/functions s/he performs in the plot and the lines s/he is given to say. Performance is how the action/function is done, how the lines are said.”

– Richard Dyer, Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979), 134. 

 

 

Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style

LINK TO THE BLOG: Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style

This is a great blog that focuses on contemporary celebrities and how their public images are constructed. Anne Petersen has a very relaxed, but intelligent writing style that makes her content both extremely impressive and enjoyable. If you like movies, tabloids, Leonardo DiCaprio, and scandals, (but you want to sound smart…) then this is the blog for you!