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Benjamin on the aura of actors: "This situation might also be characterized as follows: for the first time - and this is the effect of the film - man has to operate with his whole living person, yet forgoing its aura. For aura is tied to his presence; there can be no replica of it. The aura which, on the stage, emanates from Macbeth, cannot be separated for the spectators from that of the actor. However, the singularity of the shot in the studio is that the camera is substituted for the public. Consequently, the aura that envelops the actor vanishes, and with it the aura of the figure he portrays." -- Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, (1935)
The Stars (1957) - Edgar Morin
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Theda Bara in a publicity shot for A Fool There Was (1915) - Frank Powell [Amazon.com]
A movie star is a celebrity who is well known for his or her starring, or leading, roles in motion pictures.
In the days of early silents the names of the actors and actresses appearing in movies were not publicized or credited. Some of these performers had to help build the sets, do clean up and other chores. But as the movie going public became more and more interested in the performers who attracted their attention, the curiosity to know more about them made the movie studios and producers rethink their policy.
As the demand increased, they began publicizing the names of their leading women and men, and bill them in the credits of their movies, such as Florence Lawrence, referred to as "the first movie star," who was previously known only as the "Biograph Girl" because the movie studio where she worked was Biograph, and Mary Pickford, who was previously known as "Little Mary."
Movie studios employed performers under long-term contracts. They developed a star system as a means of promoting and selling their movies. "Star vehicles" were filmed to display the particular talents and appeal of the most popular movie stars of the studio.
Traditionally, those who have, or have achieved, star status in the movie industry are given special treatment, perks and high salaries. Some have become extremely wealthy.
Other than those movie stars who began forming their own production companies to make more money, and those who received a percentage of the profits to star in a movie, such as Lana Turner for Imitation of Life (1959), reaping millions of dollars, the first movie star to be paid a fee of $1,000,000 to star in a movie was Elizabeth Taylor for Cleopatra (1963). For his appearance in the 1978 movie Superman, movie star Marlon Brando received almost $4,000,000 for eight minutes of screen time as Superman's father, Jor-El. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movie_star [May 2005]
Movie stars and the sexual revolutionBeautiful women and extremely handsome men were rigorously selected to become movie stars and when they were cast in movies with romantic scenes of love, kissing, hugging, and flirting, an entire culture was transformed as it became more acceptable to show feelings of affection in public. The very conservative mood leading up to the twentieth century gave way to a growing erotic milieu as popularized by the movie industry emanating from the studios of places like Hollywood.
Nudity on screen was at first rare. But with the passage of time people became more tolerant of partial nudity for men and the display of female actress's breasts, at first to adult audiences, and later to more general ones. The invention of television made it possible for scenes of love and romance to be broadcast into any home with a "TV". A whole genre of actors who were particularly well-endowed with charisma and ôsex appeal" arose. Thus an entire culture arose which was steeped in and eroticized by movie and TV culture, far removed from the more inhibiting times of an "old fashioned" morality rooted in "Bible-thumping" religion.
Famous names in entertainment became not just "stars" but also "goddesses". Beautiful women such as Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda, Sophia Loren, Madonna and later young imitators, were explicit in casting a sexual aura about themselves as actresses and to the celebrity-hungry media. A love scene in every movie was accepted as the norm. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution [Oct 2004]
The Love Goddesses (1965) - Saul J. Turell
The Love Goddesses (1965) - Saul J. Turell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The story of The Love Goddesses is itself a history of sex in the movies beginning with America still in the shadow of the Victorian era and the movie heroine bound by the same conventions as any young lady of society. This brilliant documentary chronicles the massive changes in women's film sexuality from the beginnings of the motion picture at the turn of the century to the newfound frankness of the 1960s with clips of more than 100 actresses.
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