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The Stars

2005
Author:

Edgar Morin
Translated by Richard Howard
Foreword by Lorraine Mortimer

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The legendary work on the mythic nature of movie stardom

Edgar Morin investigates the star system from its evolution when Chaplin, Garbo, and Valentino lived at a distance from their fans, to stars like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe who became more approachable, and concludes with an analysis of the adulation surrounding James Dean. Ultimately, Morin finds, stars serve as intermediaries between the real and the imaginary.

The Stars is a rich and insight-filled book about film as a resonant, 'magical' art.

Dana Polan, author of Jane Campion

Worshipped as heroes, treated as gods, movie stars are more than objects of admiration. A star’s influence touches every aspect of ordinary life, dictating taste in fashion, lifestyle, and desire.

Edgar Morin’s remarkable investigation into the cultural and social significance of the star system traces its evolution from the earliest days of the cinema—when stars like Chaplin, Garbo, and Valentino lived at a distance from their fans, far beyond all mortals—to the postwar era in which stars like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe became familiar and familial, less unapproachable but more moving, and concludes with an analysis of the furious religious adulation surrounding the life and death of James Dean. Ultimately, Morin finds, stars are more than just creations of the movie studios; they serve as intermediaries between the real and the imaginary. Today, with the cult of fame more pervasive and influential than ever, The Stars remains a vibrant, vital, and surprising work.

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Edgar Morin is emeritus director of research at France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and president of the Association pour la Pensée Complexe.

Lorraine Mortimer is senior lecturer of sociology and anthropology at La Trobe University, Australia.

Richard Howard teaches at the School of Arts at Columbia University. He recently translated Absinthe: A Novel and The Charterhouse of Parma.

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The Stars is a rich and insight-filled book about film as a resonant, 'magical' art.

Dana Polan, author of Jane Campion

The wonders of Morin, the prolific wunderkind, are undoubtedly abundant and often inspiring. The new availability of The Cinema and The Stars could help not only to discover some of the early writing of a highly interesting intellectual figure; they may also be an occasion to update the archaeology of film and media-culture studies with texts in which self-reflection and great prognostic potential meet with glaring rhetoric and disturbing “transdisciplinary” amalgamations.

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Contents

Foreword Lorraine Mortimer

Genesis and Metamorphosis of the Stars
ods and Goddesses
The Stellar Liturgy
The Chaplin Mystery
The Case of James Dean
Star Merchandise
The Star and the Actor
The Star and Us
Morin’s Cinema Landmarks

Notes

Bibliography