A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born is a 1976 American musical drama film telling the story of a young woman, played by Barbra Streisand, who enters show business, and meets and falls in love with an established male star, played by Kris Kristofferson, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline. It is a remake of two earlier versions – the 1937 version was a drama starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and the 1954 version was a musical starring Judy Garland and James Mason. It will be remade for a third time in 2018 starring Stefani Germanotta and Bradley Cooper.

A Star Is BornEsther Hoffman, an aspiring singer-songwriter, meets John Norman Howard, a famous, successful and self-destructive singer/songwriter rock star, whom, after a series of coincidental meetings, she finally starts dating. Believing in her talent, John gives her a helping hand and her career begins to eclipse his.

Writer and director Frank Pierson, in his New West magazine article “My Battles With Barbra and Jon” summarized it thusly:

An actress is a little more than a woman, an actor a little less than a man (Oscar Wilde) … The woman in our story is        ambitious to become a star, but it is not necessary: it can make her happier and richer, but she could give it all away and not be a better or worse person. With stardom she is only a little more than a woman. For the man, his career is his  defense against a self-destructive part of himself that has led him into outrageous bursts of drunkenness, drugs, love affairs, fights and adventures that have made him a legend. His career is also what gives him his sense of who he is. Without it, he is lost and confused; his demons eat him alive. That’s why he is a little less than a man. And it is not that her success galls him, or that she wins over him; the tragedy is that all her love is not enough to keep alive a man who has lost what he measures his manhood with; his career.”

And so the conclusion is measured by the theme. He takes his life in the mistaken belief that he will then not drag her down with him.

 


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