Tag Archives: Lousie Brooks

Un-defining Stars

Sometimes we cannot help but develop a relationship with a film star. We’ve seen them on the big screen dozens of times and depending on the star, they take on a different role in each flick. Thus, it can so happen that with each role, another facet of this star’s persona becomes revealed to us. In time we have constructed a whole personality for our star of choice. They can be adventurous, humorous, courageous, and emotional all at one—like any other person. The ideal breaks when we are reminded that this is a persona that is constructed.

Nevertheless, we have extratexual material to prove that our mind’s creation has some legitimacy to it. Magazines, interviews and other appearances reinforce the construction. So then, we must ask where does the actor as a person end and the character begin? How interrelated are these two entities? Are the extratexual sources reinforcing the character or is the actor revealed through the film roles?

This exact paradox is underlying in Amelie Hastie’s Louise Brooks, Star Witness. Louise Brooks has convoluted her identity, particularly her sexual identity and life, with a combination of the statements she has made, her film roles and her memories. Initially, she stated that she could not write about her life truthfully because life is predicated on one’s romantic experiences and she was not willing to disclose the latter (Hastie: 3). Secondly, she starred as a sexually ambiguous  (possibly lesbian) character in Pandora’s Box, the role she is most famous for. As a result, viewers contemplate one of two things about the star: either she is a lesbian who is not willing to write upon it because it would define her indefinitely or she is not and the mystery associated with her persona would vanish. Finally, she reveals that she is neither opposed to the idea of being a lesbian and in fact may have had relations with women, but she loves men (10). As a result, we are still left where we have started. Because nothing was wholly denied, is she or isn’t she? Is her sexuality aligned with her character Lulu, or has she taken on this persona so that her role could be reinforced? She leaves this for her fans to decide, as do other stars, because ruling one thing out would breaking the enigma. And this enigma is often precisely what attracts fans to a particular star.