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4.0
515 Ratings

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

Directed by Todd Haynes
United States, 1987
Short

Synopsis

A biopic of pop star and anorexia victim Karen Carpenter, acted out by Barbie Dolls.

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Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story Directed by Todd Haynes
The dead quality of mannequins fascinated Haynes. Superstar was created to test whether audience identification was possible in a movie where all the characters were inanimate. But nothing can disenchant the doll playing Carpenter or stop the hurt radiating from her figure. So waxy and catatonic, it's the perfect symbol for the experience of being inside a body that feels wrong. As the heroine sings before the horror eats her up, "I'd like to quit/Nothing ever seems to fit..."
April 28, 2017
Superstar deploys classical melodrama's narrative template and stylistic strategies (lighting, montage, and, above all, music) to suture the viewer into a direct emotional involvement with Karen's personal tragedy. But generic disruptions—informational intertitles, cutaways to T.V. news footage, a fake educational film—cue you to read her bulimia as a symptomatic social phenomenon, a disease created by and legible through cultural constructs.
November 12, 2010
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The film is a distressing examination of public versus private personas. For the most part, the film is shot with Barbie dolls playing the roles of the ill-fated ‘70s singer and her family. This is a perfect choice, because the mass influence of Barbie dolls in a young person's life cannot be denied. They stress an ideal of beauty that, in most subtle ways, engrains itself in a young person's mind.
July 01, 2002
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