Film Stardom and Film-Philosophy

By Lucy Bolton

This special issue of Film-Philosophy on film stardom is designed to do two things: to demonstrate the philosophical questions at the heart of many elements of studying and understanding actors as stars, and hopefully to provoke more work in this area. I have been teaching and researching film stardom for about fifteen years, but my fascination with stardom is really lifelong. I have always been attracted by the closeup on the star face, and the degree of mediated intimacy that this conjures up. The idea of unique individuals, communicating with us through gestures, voices, bodies and faces, with which we are so familiar, prompts many questions that are philosophical in nature, in the fields of aesthetics, epistemology and ontology. Relating to a film star, and the effects that they might have on us as an ideal or a role model, raises ethical questions, and the experience of watching a favourite star on screen is an instance of a very particular phenomenology, as is seeing them offscreen, or their lives curated in a museum, or – indeed – ‘in the flesh’.

A complex phenomenon: the iconic dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch on display in the Hollywood Costume Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013. The dress is displayed on a mannequin shaped to evoke Monroe’s body, with a screen to show her moving, smiling, face as ‘the Girl’ in the film.

The authors in this issue are from film studies, philosophy, feminist theory and film- philosophy, and each presents their unique investigation of a philosophical aspect of film stardom, from performance and anxiety to gesture and the animated self. Each article tests some boundaries and offers new paradigms for thinking about stardom, and I hope this will lead to more philosophical engagement with this longstanding, foundational element of cinema.


Watch Lucy Bolton talk about the special Stardom issue of Film-Philosophy.

About Lucy Bolton

Lucy Bolton is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London. She is the author of the forthcoming Contemporary Cinema and the Philosophy of Iris Murdoch, and is on the editorial board of Film-Philosophy.

Rebecca Wojturska
Rebecca Wojturska
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