Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story - Reaction

A short movie told through barbie dolls about a singer's (Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters) death due to anorexia. I applaud the choice; the barbie dolls reflect a plastic, overly clean, impossible notion of femininity. The movie also used other props such a container of ex-lax.

It's clearly an advocacy film, with narration explaining anorexia and its social milieu. The scenes using barbie and ken dolls were moving, a fact that surprised me. The narration, however, made the film lose ground when it appeared, bringing one out of the story, which actually had a soap-opera feel, and into the larger social context. In contrast, interspersed montages, which used real footage, provided atmosphere without disrupting the narrative. But there were also interjected interviews with people reflecting on the singer's life--these felt out of place, tossed in as part of the rest of the hodgepodge.

The movie appears to be coarse-grained, though some of that could be because I watched a bad, nth-hand copy.

The film was never distributed because the creators never acquired the rights use The Carpenters' music (which serves as the soundtrack throughout the film), rights which were probably denied because the film portrays Karen's brother in a bad light. Nevertheless, the film is freely available online.

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