Stardom in Eastern European Cinema.

Gergely, Gabor (2022) Stardom in Eastern European Cinema. Taylor and Francis. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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A significant body of scholarship since Dyer’s groundbreaking work on stars (1979; 1986; 1998) has challenged the view that stardom was limited to Hollywood (e.g. Vincendeau 2000, Ascheid 2003, Hayward 2004, Soila 2009, Bandhauer and Royer 2015). Star biographies are ubiquitous in Eastern Europe [e.g. Bános on Pál Jávor (1978)], there is a wealth of archival material to mine (e.g. Zbigniew Cybulski headshots and lobby cards traded on online auction sites), and scholars have considered film actors in relation to representations of femininity (e.g. Attwood 1993, Iordanova 2003, Mazierska and Ostrowska 2006), in relation to national (e.g. Ostrowska 2005, Williams 2015, Gergely 2016) and transnational identity (Kristensen 2014, Mazierska 2014, Smith 2014). However, much work remains to be done in the context of Eastern Europe on stars, stardom, celebrity and infrastructure supporting star systems (e.g. agencies, the tabloid press, fan literature, and exhibition, distribution and marketing firms).
The false perception that stardom was negligible or even non-existent and the assumption that state-supported film industries were insensitive to audience demand and therefore had no need for stars remain hard to shake because what writing there is on Eastern European stars is dispersed and yet to grow into a body of work that can offer a comprehensive and nuanced view. The blurring of state socialist Eastern Europe with the region’s other faces and eras is also a factor. The false image of Cold War-era Eastern Europe established in scholarship ‘from the West’ (Imre 2005, xii), and popular representations of state socialist Eastern Europe as drab, do not easily mesh with the notions of glitz and glamour cultivated by classical Hollywood’s publicity departments. Thus there appears to be a cognitive dissonance between the notions of stardom and Eastern Europe. At play, too, is the dominance of the auteur-director and the resistant film in approaches to Eastern European cinema of the Cold War (Imre 2005, xii; Mazierska 2010, 11), a dynamic that downplays and obscures other creatives in the filmmaking process, including actors. Nonetheless, stars were and remain ubiquitous and their role is important to the functioning of Eastern European centres of film production.
The springboard for analyses of stardom in Hollywood is the insight, first systematically developed by Dyer, that stars are a phenomenon of production and consumption, they are aligned with the ideological project and practices of Hollywood and accumulate meanings projected onto them by consumers and producers, which stars, with their individual agency, challenge or play up to (1998). These dynamics can be logically read against a capitalist system of production, but are perhaps less straightforward to map against the command economies of state socialism. It may seem that the relatively overt ambition to convey specific ideas and ideologies via the cinema – remember the sentiment attributed to Lenin: ‘of all the arts, for us the most important is cinema’ (Taylor and Christie 1994, 53) – reduces the complexity of the phenomenon of stardom in state socialist settings, but it must be noted that of the 13 decades since the Lumière brothers’ first public screening, Eastern Europe has spent no more than five decades under state socialism. Moreover, state socialism itself was not fixed, it was practised and experienced differently across the region, and as the articles of Mina Radovic and Andrei Gadalean in this special issue also help us see, at different periods different visions of the cultural sphere and its public faces dominated.

Keywords:Eastern European Cinema, Stardom
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:48489
Deposited On:25 Mar 2022 14:37

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