Is Stardom Analogous with Royalty?

A Case Study on Grace Kelly

Classy and sophisticated, Grace Kelly represented something aspirational for American audiences. Her marriage into the Monaco royal family was the ultimate destination of the ‘American dream’, the climbing of the social and class ladder up to the ultimate hierarchy of inherited status. The star system represented this same image of a meritocracy and accessibility into upper class life. By imitating stars, figures of fabricated extraordinary ordinarity, one could hope to become like them. When Grace Kelly became a princess, even that seemed possible. How might her royal marriage be the natural conclusion of star power, or are royalty and stardom oppositional ideas?

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The star power of Marilyn Monroe

The image of a star is not completely falsified because they base their persona on a quality that they do have, this is why the image of a star is believable. There has to be some assumable truth to what story is being told about a star for people to buy into it. The film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953) starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell is about the male gaze and how two women navigate their objectification. 

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Neorealist Film Aesthetics in Cuban Third Cinema

Starring Richard Gere and directed by Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven (1978) defies American film conventions by using natural lighting exclusively. This was the vision of DP Néstor Almendros, a Spanish born cinematographer. For the film Days of Heaven, Almendros draws upon European filmmaking tradition, Italian Neorealism in particular. Almendros himself studied in Rome and was part of the Cuban film industry as well. More than American film, Cuban film takes aesthetic inspiration from Italian cinema. Almendros then represents the proliferation of Italian film conventions through Cuba, with Days of Heaven as an aesthetic outlier in the United States. For my paper I will analyze the influence of Italian neorealist aesthetics on 20th century Cuban cinema and beyond, using Days of Heaven as an example of the connection.

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